Sustainability: Our practices at the factory and on farm

by Gippsland Jersey

We’re always looking for ways to improve sustainability practices in everything we do at Gippsland Jersey.

At the Factory we recycle wasted bottles and cardboard, and also send cardboard back to the manufacturers to be used again. We irrigate local pasture with factory waste, resulting in phenomenal pasture regrowth and very few weeds, soil samples reveal excellent results! We've been spreading factory effluent on farm for two years and hay contractors tell us that we have the best paddock in the region!

This is what is called circular economy - turning waste into good and the response from the grass is amazing which in turn has positive impacts on the beef cattle that graze this grass. Looking at the paddock you'd think we’ve piled on a load of fertiliser! However we can report not a drop of fertiliser has been put on the farm for over 30 years - thanks to Sallie’s pop who believed in regenerative farming long before it was even trendy.

We spoke to our farmers recently and they gave us an update on how they continue to strive towards being as sustainable as possible;

“We've planted over 10,000 trees and are still planting more! We've put in effluent reuse systems which handle waste from the dairy to irrigate pasture and provide natural fertiliser. Solar panels on the dairy have had a significant impact on electricity consumption. We breed polled animals (genetic lines that don’t grow horns) for animal welfare purposes. We also don’t use any insecticides or pesticides” - Luke Wallace, Poowong

“We use multi species of crops and grasses to ensure choice for cattle and improve the soil. We have multiple solar pumps that pump water at the time of year we need it for free. We divert effluent through underground main lines so waste can be spread around the farm, which dramatically reduces the need for fertiliser.  We are continually planting trees to create shelter, better pasture growth, protect waterways and provide linkages for wildlife throughout the farm” - Brenton Ziero, Jindivick

In addition to these practices our farmers have been focusing on creating more biodynamic soils. Using traditional farming techniques and a prescribed list of biological or natural “preparations”, Biodynamics acknowledges and works with universal or cosmic forces that are at play in the farming environment. I’m currently looking into alternatives to granular fertilisers and growing more diverse ranges of grasses and crops that suit the environmental conditions here. We continue to plants more trees and look at the farming ecosystem as a whole” - Matt Wilson, Drouin West

“A big reason why we changed our herd across to Jersey was due to their low environmental impact, they have a smaller environmental footprint than the larger breeds and produce an impressive amount of milk. We keep our farm as native as we can and try to leave as much of the dead trees as possible for habitat - I’ve seen a range of native birds down there including Gang Gang cockatoos, Powerful Owls and Butcher Birds, King Parrots, Bell Birds, Noisy Miners - the list goes.

“This isn’t farm related but I’ve reused plastic strawberry punnets as mini hot houses to grow my seedlings for the veggie patch and reused GJ milk bottles to freeze homemade lemon cordial. We live next to beautiful bushland and an old railway line, I guess working in nature 24/7 makes you appreciate everything it has to offer and I want the next generation (and the one after that) to enjoy it too!” - Siahn LeBrocq, Rokeby

In addition to these practices our farmers also utilise sexed semen - whilst more expensive, this ensures that all calves born are female.

JERSEY SUSTAINABILITY

Jersey cows are outstanding producers of milk - producing more milk per kilo of bodyweight than their other dairy breed counterparts. The world record for milk production by one cow is held by a Jersey cow! They produce more milk with less feed that other breeds - eating about 80% less than Friesians. They are also very adaptable to climate and environmental conditions.

Fun fact: Jersey cows are known for their friendly and docile disposition, but did you know Jersey bulls are considered the worst-tempered of all dairy breeds!?