DairyBase: Benn Thexton | Gormandale, Gippsland region

DairyBase is an essential and easy-to-use tool if you want to take your dairy farm’s business performance to the next level says Victorian dairy farmer Benn Thexton.

Developed by Dairy Australia, DairyBase is a secure online tool that enables dairy farmers to measure and compare their farm business over time.

After entering their farm data into DairyBase, farmers can create confidential and comprehensive farm reports to help them understand the overall farm financial performance.

“The advantages of using DairyBase is that you get to know where your business is sitting and where it sits in terms of others and it shows you where you need to improve.”

“It’s quite simple to enter your data if you have the information - the reports come back instantly and has a lot of graphics – it’s always better looking at a picture rather than just numbers.”

An award-winning farmer based at Gormandale, Mr Thexton milks 300 cows on an effective milking area of 86 hectares.

Farm business performance has been a strong focus for his business since he and wife Peta first took on his parent’s farm eight years ago. Since then cow numbers have increased from 220 and business decisions are considered each year according to the milk price, weather conditions and feed on hand.

By analysing the business year-to-year and comparing with other farms, continual improvements have been made – a process that has now been made easier by DairyBase, he said.

“Our focus is pretty simple and that is not to lose money and we have a very good idea of where we sit after benchmarking for the last seven or eight years. We look at Return on Investment as the overall indicator.”

Farmers stand to benefit by using DairyBase for their own financial analysis by comparing performance with other farms, he said.

“We never look at the averages - we look at the top 25 percent and we are looking at how we compare within our district and also Australia-wide. If we are not up there then we can pinpoint the reasons why.”

“We’re not getting those 10% improvements like when we started of course, it’s just tweaking now, but for example this year fodder production and silage were identified as areas of focus and they have been addressed. There are always things you can pick up on with analysis.”

Mr Thexton said he was always looking for new ways to advance the profitability of his farm through new technologies, research and development such as different cropping programs or using new pastures species.

“With DairyBase you can see how these new approaches work and track the improvements. We look at how these approaches will affect other parts of the business before we do it. We don’t do partial budgets, we do full budgets to show what the returns will be.”

“DairyBase is really worthwhile and if you can’t do it yourself then get someone else to help you.”