Gerald and Michelle Davidson

  • Gerald Davidson grew up on a dairy farm and has continued in the family tradition.
  • In his current dairy, after a period farming tobacco, he started with 40 cows 6 years ago. The farm now has 450 head of cattle.
  • Daily milk production currently stands at 2 800 litres, milking 135 cows.
  • Gerald strongly focuses on excellent calf rearing, as a key to success in dairying. Calves are removed from their mothers after four days, thus ensuring they get their mother’s colostrum and so immunities.
  • At least a 90% calf survival rate is achieved annually, through very close and continuous monitoring of the welfare and health of all calves, kept in very good, very clean and comfortable conditions.

  • Mobile Animal Rearing Systems (MARS) are used and are moved daily.
  • This ensures good hygiene, fresh bedding, and prevents disease.
  • Hygienic conditions for the calves are critical to their welfare and survival.
  • Excellent nutrition is provided using Lacto Calf via Automatic Milk Bar Feeders, not buckets; bucket feeding often leads to overly fast ingestion, then indigestion and distress, in calves.
  • Calves are reared in peer groups and moved in these up though a system of pens as they grow.
  • Good record keeping of every animal’s whereabouts, is also paramount.
  • The Davidsons rear their steers as a future investment; the steers are well cared for and well fed.
  • Whilst this does cost a lot of money, it is a worthwhile long term investment.
  • These animals increase in value as they grow in size.
  • When infrastructure is required, they sell steers to finance this.
  • The cows are dipped in the dairy, via a homespun spray dipping system devised by Gerald Davidson at modest cost.
    • Opened up another 24 berth milking parlour, making a total of 50 head milked at any one time;
    • Put in an additional 5000 litre water storage container;
    • Introduced Mist Foggers in the dairy to keep conditions cool for the cows in the summer;
    • Introduced Dairy MARS cages;
    • Introduced Milk Bar Feeders;
    • Acquired a spray race; and
    • Put in an excellent EMA approved drainage system.

    Other keys to success recommended by Gerald Davidson:

    • Use salt licks; these are critical to healthy cows and good milk production.
    • Above all, hands on dairy farming is critical.  Do not leave everything to others.  Walk around daily.  Observe.  Correct.  Improve.
    • This personal attention to detail on a daily basis is critical to dairy success: Delegate, but only up to a point!
    • Walk around and observe for yourself.  You will spot things others do not, as you move and look.
    • In the daily routine of dairy farming, it is easy to zone out because procedures are repetitive.
    • The eye of experience, when not involved in the full routines and procedures, will observe details that may be missed by those caught up in this repetition