DairyBase: Mark Billing | Colac, WestVic region

The online farm business management tool DairyBase can play a key role in lifting business skills in the dairy industry says western Victorian dairy farmer Mark Billing.

Mr Billing and his wife Sam milk 450 cows on 240 hectares near Colac. The couple have always had a business focus monitoring expenditure on their operation and measuring the value from the dollars they spend.

A host of a recent dairy farmer discussion group Mr Billing’s discussion focused on introducing DairyBase to 45 farmers and he hopes more farmers around Australia will get to grips with their farm business management by using DairyBase.

“It’s true what they say – you can’t manage it until you measure it. I think DairyBase will play a huge role in the industry. Quite simply it helps farmers figure out what makes their business tick.

“It’s also fairly easy-to-use and intuitive with pop-ups to guide you when you are entering your data.”

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 business performance.

Mr Billing said by using DairyBase farmers could calculate their Cost of Production which he views as crucial.

“Whether it’s a good or bad figure I think people should know their Cost of Production because when you know that you know your business and you can make the required changes.

“For us we know what our Cost of Production is and that means when the milk price is announced at the start of the year we know what our profit margins will be.”

DairyBase can help to answer a lot of questions about a farm business, he said.

“Realistically you need to know your business and if are you maximising the money you’ve invested.

“If you know your business you can calculate what the effect will be if the milk price goes from $5.60 to $4.60, how you will fare in the short term and how that might change things for your business in the long-term.”

In the past farm business analysis had highlighted key areas of focus for the Billing’s operation including lowering the amount of bought in feed, growing more grass and getting more effective value from staff.

“But it’s also about looking at spending the money correctly and at the right time of the year to maximise your investment.”

Mr Billing encouraged farmers to sign-up to DairyBase and take control of their farm businesses.

“Once the farm data is entered it’s about what they can do to get value out of the analysis. People can look within their companies or consultants. Fonterra has made a big effort to train all the regional development managers in DairyBase and I think that is great support from the company,” he said.

“And with DairyBase the more people on it the more powerful it will become.”