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Terang farmer to put his mark on former DemoDAIRY

The former DemoDAIRY at Terang is being revived as a stand-alone farm and the local farmer behind the initiative is confident it will work.

Third generation Legendairy farmer Paul Moloney purchased the property earlier this year and has started a five-year regeneration plan.

DemoDAIRY was established in the early 1990s as a research and demonstration farm but its role in the industry changed as on-farm research projects were phased out, and demonstration activities were largely replaced by focus farms, leading the DemoDAIRY board to sell the property.

The dairy hadn’t been used for 18 months and many paddocks were run down and while Paul says reviving the farm will be a challenge, he’s confident he can make it work.

The 161-hectare property on the Princes Highway backs on to Paul’s existing farm. The Moloney family has been farming near Terang since 1948 when P.G. and Hannah Moloney purchased land at the southern end of town. The farm expanded over the years to 190 hectares and was later owned by Peter and Evelyn Moloney before Paul took over almost 10 years ago.

The new property will stand alone.  “I want this place to grow enough grass so we’re not importing anything other than grain,” Paul said. “I want it to be self-sufficient.”

The new enterprise will start on July 4 with 250 cows and will be run by a sharefarmer.

Paul has rebuilt the dairy and started pasture renovations. “The first thing I did was gut the dairy and install new equipment,” he said. “The dairy hadn’t been touched for a long time and had been deteriorating before it was shut down. I wanted to get back to basics and make it functional and easy to operate.”

It’s been a hard summer with many pastures dying and Paul needed to re-sow about 20 paddocks that were in poor condition. He is using mainly Italian ryegrass, the same as his home farm, and also trialling vetch and oats on restored paddocks. 

Although the farm will now be a private enterprise, a small plot has been leased to Stephen Pasture Seeds to continue ryegrass trials. Paul also plans to invite the South Ecklin Dairy Discussion Group, of which he’s a member, to inspect the new-look farm.

Paul hopes to sell the former administration and research buildings and have them relocated from the site. “We’ve had a few enquiries but nothing concrete,” he said. He plans to reclaim the land and build a hay shed, machinery shed and calf shed.

The decision to invest in a second farm is a show of confidence in the future of the dairy industry.

“It’s what I do; I milk cows,” Paul said.  “I don’t know how to build houses; I know how to milk cows and I do it as profitably as I can.”

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