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City Crop Blog: Cows love lucerne!

Date posted: 07 January 2016

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We hope you’ve had a chance to see our lucerne crop growing at Adelaide Botanic Garden. The crop’s growing extremely well and is at a stage where dairy cows could be introduced to munch the nutritious plant.

South Australia has many leading dairy farmers who use lucerne as part of their cow’s diet. We caught up with Mandy Pacitti from Misty Brae Holsteins’ at the 2015 Royal Adelaide Show, where she had just won an award for industry involvement, and blue ribbons for her dairy’s outstanding cows.

Mandy said being involved with the Show and other competitions is an important way to measure their cows against other dairies, and to reinforce that their farming methods are as good as can be.

“We’re extremely proud of our high quality cows and the milk they produce,” Mandy said.

“There’s no doubt this is thanks to our sound care for the animals, our feeding regime and environment.”

Located at Hindmarsh Tiers on the Fleurieu Peninsula, Misty Brae is home to more than 650 Holstein Friesian dairy cows. With rolling hills, gum trees and a whopping 900 millimetres of rainfall, the farm provides an ideal environment for dairy farming.

“The combination of cool weather – which suits the cows, who dislike summer heat – rainfall and sufficient underground water is perfect to produce high quality land for the cows and for dairy farming,” Mandy said.

The Misty Brae team (consisting of Gino and Mandy Pacitti, their two sons Ash and Andrew and a farm hand) milk 300 to 350 cows daily. To support their milk production, the team ensures the cows have access to the best range of grasses to eat on the land (pasture).

“We’re a pasture-based operation and grow mainly clovers, medics and ryegrass,” Mandy said.

“For summer, we grow turnip crops and we supplement their diet with oaten and lucerne hay.

“Lucerne hay is used in our feeding regime because it is highly nutritious, providing our animals with a good source of protein, fibre, minerals – such as calcium potassium, sulphur, manganese and zinc – and vitamins.”

The Pacitti family are proud of the breeding program used for their high production Holstein cows.

“The Holsteins are a high production dairy cow, with a black-and-white patched coat,” Mandy said.

“In our breeding program we look for cows with a good temperament [nature/character], udder texture and capacity.

“One of our prizewinning cows is just outstanding and produces about 11,000 litres of milk per year with 3.2 per cent protein and 4.2 per cent fat, which is an industry best.

“We’re proud that our milk quality has been recognised by industry and we are now one of six farmers from the Fleurieu Peninsula who sell our milk directly to La Casa Del Formaggio, a South Australian business that creates high quality cheese and cheese products.

“We encourage all consumers to support businesses that use South Australian milk, either as fresh milk or in their products, because you’re consuming a quality product developed by passionate South Australian farming families.”

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