Monday, 25 November 2013

Grand Champion Honours!!!

We knew that we had put everything that we possibly could into all three components of our entry for 2013 but we had no idea that we would come away with 7 awards and $2500 prize money

Program A included the Natural Resource Management components and the chance to work with a Young Eco Champion. 37 schools across the three states of NSW, QLD and ACT competed in this year's Archibull Prize.
We would like to thank everyone who helped us achieve this incredible success and we are honoured to be recognised for all the hard work that we put in.

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Creamy adds her finishing touches

After weeks of nuturing our improved pasture base for the cow, we arrived to a scene of some devastation yesterday morning at the farm. Our adorable cow Creamy had managed to break out of her paddock and had a lovely feast in the early dawn on rye grass, lucerne, clover and chicory. Our pasture base now has that authentic grazed pasture look about it. Creamy said that she wanted to add her touch to our art work before it left for judging. Mr Morrissey created a brilliant artwork of Creamy after she had also eaten all of his corn plants: "Cream corned beef" Creamy is now in hiding after her escapade.         
M Morrissey's artwork at the farm

 Creamy in hiding
 "I can smell pasture and corn"


Our team member we forgot to include


Thursday, 17 October 2013

Yeah we made it to the finish line!!!!!!!

  Our Artwork analysis
Theme: What it takes to keep the Australian Dairy Industry sustainable?

Concept: The overall concept of our artwork deals with mechanisation and natural resource management in the Dairy Industry. The natural resource base that the industry relies upon for sustainable increases in efficiency, are the legs and living pasture foundation that we have constructed and grown for our cow to stand on. Her body is about mechanisation and innovation in milking technology and the biomechanical processes of milk production.  

The trolley base has an acknowledgement of country to the local aboriginal people who we pay respect to for being custodians and sustainable land managers for thousands of years. It is this land that is now used for agriculture in the Shoalhaven region and in the spirit of reconciliation we believe that their knowledge of country and land management practices is valuable and we can learn from this.

The base is our representation of the importance of good quality pasture to milk production. It has been planted with Kangaroo Valley Rye grass (developed as a pasture grass in our local area), Lucerne, red clover and chicory. This mixture of nutritious species includes the deeper rooting perennials which are able to withstand dry conditions and are used on many dairy farms to improve pastures. The growing medium contains the compost that we made at the beginning of our Archibull journey this year and all the worms that have bred in that organic matter.

The front region of her lower body at the heart of everything, uses interconnected drain pipes that lead from an effluent pond, to spell out the words Natural Resource Management. Waste water recycling is an important scheme that dairy farmers close to our school can access through the REMS scheme and being mindful of wasting water and considering what goes down the drain are important Natural Resource Management issues. NRM is at the heart of what will allow the dairy industry to continue to expand in the future. Sustainable use of our natural resources is critical for longevity of the industry.

The front leg moving forward is all about fencing off natural waterways in the farm landscape. We believe this is an important way that Dairy farmers are moving forward. This allows the riparian stream bank vegetation to not be trampled by cows and protects the banks from eroding. This will improve the water quality and the farm ecosystem. It is a common practice on farms in our local area, especially on properties that lead on to the Shoalhaven River, for farmers to work with volunteer Landcare workers and Southern Rivers Catchment Management Authority, to fence off the river banks and replant mangroves that the cows have eaten. We have also represented how waterways are interconnected within a catchment and ultimately flow out to the sea in our region.

The other front leg shows the importance of maintaining good soil health and the complexities of the soil food web. This is linked to increasing biodiversity on farms as represented by the three native birds: Black duck, Magpie and Willy Wagtail who are the top consumers in the web. By looking after soil structure and fertility and increasing biodiversity, farmers can keep their pastures healthy and their farms sustainable.

The back leg in the forward position represents five perennial pasture species: Lucerne, chicory, red clover, white clover and plantain. All of the species are highly nutritious pasture fodder for dairy cows that are planted to improve the quality of pasture. The better the pasture, the better the milk quality and quantity. These species have deeper root systems than ryegrasses and can withstand low rainfall conditions. This is very important in the ever increasing variable climate that Australian farmers work under and our tendency to have prolonged drought periods. Lucerne can add Nitrogen to the soil which improves its fertility.

The other back leg is about food waste and the unnecessary loss of 4 million tonnes of food in Australia each year to landfill. The bright red worm reminds the viewer that composting is a much better alternative to landfill. The ball and chain around her leg is symbolic this food waste being a weight that is dragging the sustainability of Australian agriculture backwards.

On her back udder are symbols of the supermarket price wars for discount milk and a wound that is being stitched up with a needle down the back of her udder. This represents the damage that reduced prices have caused for dairy farmer confidence in the economic future of their farms. Farmers work hard and invest huge amounts of money in their farm operations and they deserve fair prices for their milk from the processors.

We have treated one side of our cow as if she is a large fermentation chamber machine that ‘makes’ milk. We have shown the inputs (food, water and the birth of a calf) necessary to run the machine and what is produced. The importance of genetics and computerized records to breeding programs is represented by the image of the DNA double helix molecule connected to a section of a computer motherboard. The layout and design of the ruminant digestive system of the cow is represented in situ, as if viewing in cross-section and each part is labeled with its anatomical name like the blueprint of a machine might be drawn up. We have kept the relative size and position of each part correct for a real cow. The side opens and the ruminant digestive system can be pulled out. Details about the roles of each of the four stomachs and other sections are written on the material model that we have sewn together, so that the viewer can understand details about how the machine works and what is produced. We have also shown the waste products that are created. The mammary glands in the teats are also included in detail on the udder as they are another part of ‘the machine’.

On the other side we have used a timeline/graph to show how increasing mechanisation and computerisation of the milking process has changed over time. We have used the statistics on the graph for milk production and numbers of cows to show how efficiency gains in milk production have been linked to innovation and technological improvements over time. These are linked to the figures that are underneath the images of milking technology which show how many people an Australian farmer fed in 1950, 1970 and 1990. The images are of the changes in milking technology as innovation, mechanisation, computerisation and robotics have been used in milking technology design. The one farmer is shown in three images and their role becomes less labour intensive over the time scale. Robotic dairy milking promotes milk production through more frequent stimulation of the mammary glands as the cows are often being milked 3 times a day and when they want to be milked which is good for animal welfare. Her head which has suggestions of ‘morphing’ into a cyborg cow (a futuristic vision?) has planet Earth eyes as she looks forward to feeding a future growing population and she carries her name on her forehead and the Australian dairy logo on her blaze.

Stylistic influences: There are several characteristics which make our artwork postmodern; these include bricolage, the use of words prominently as the central artistic element, collage, simplification, appropriation, the recycling of past styles and themes in a modern-day context, as well as the break-up of the barrier between fine and high arts and low art and popular culture. The juxtaposition of old and new, especially with regards to taking styles from past periods and re-fitting them into modern art outside of their original context, is a common characteristic of postmodern art. Bricolage is the construction or creation of a work from a diverse range of things that happen to be available. In our work we have used computer motherboards, compost, galvanised iron, chain, a volleyball, expanding foam, a baby’s headband, earthworms, living pasture species of plants, felt, material, wood and electrical leads. Appropriation in art is the use of pre-existing objects or images with little or no transformation applied to them. The elements treated this way are the computer motherboards, electrical leads, chain and the living pasture base that our cow stands in. Text and numbers make up a significant part of the art work and are a central artistic element. All of the text is connected to the images and concepts we are trying to portray. The food waste leg and back udder have been treated with collage and also include images that come from popular culture such as the half price symbol and red hand logo. The painting styles are both expressionistic and realistic and these have been juxtaposed against stylised drain pipes which make up the wording on the front, simple arrow symbols, numerical data and the stylised Holstein black and white markings of her front and rear.

What makes your Archibull unique?: The connection between the two elements of NRM and Dairy, her living improved pasture base and her pull out model of the digestive system.


Year 8 English responses:

An Udder Catastrophe!

Pasture by Pasture, we move around.

Eating and pooping all over the ground.
Calf by calf, labour by labour.
We help these humans, we do them a favour.

4 is the number of stomachs we have,

4 is the time we are milked by Gav.
It is hard work but we shouldn’t complain, 

At least we’re not meat cows, who live in vain.

Grown to be killed, end up burgers.
It’s time to hit the hay, as the night converges.
Udder Brilliance
Yesterday we learnt a lot about the Dairy Industry and cows.
We learnt that we waste 4 million tonnes of food a year and we need to start being more conservative with what we do.
We also realised that the way we milk our cows is changing and evolving a lot and it is now being done mechanically.
On the cow they have put a lot of work into producing such a high standard of art. The cow shows how much it is developed and it shows a timeline of how milking has changed from using your hands and a bucket to being milked robotically.
The insides of cow have been added to the internal cavity, to show the four stomachs of a cow.
It has a lot of detail and must have taken a long time to get where it is now.
Jasmine, Sonja and Georgia. Year 8  English
Udder Brilliance
Shoalhaven High Schools Archibull Cow, “Udder Brilliance”, Is a very creative and inspiring example of the Dairy Industry.
It shows on one side how the dairy farming career has developed over the years from hand milking to robotic dairies today.
One leg is about the natural resource management which is where the farmers are having to fence off rivers so the cattle cannot get to it because the cattle were causing erosion.
Another leg is about the pasture improvement ensuring that farms plant perennials .
The last leg is about how much perfectly good food gets thrown out which is a total of four tonnes annually.
The 2013 Archibull Cow is extremely good and everyone involved has done a great job.
By Shellyce Hobill, Rachael Harris, Rebekah Nielsen and Nikita Lee. Year 8 English
Udder Brilliance
The Archibull Award-
Yesterday we viewed the cow that has been prepared for entry by our teachers and students.
One leg is about the Natural Resource Management- Fencing off natural water ways.
One leg is about the importance of healthy soil to maintain food webs.
One leg is about the food we waste each year in Australia which is 4 million tonnes annually.
One side of the cow displays milk production and how farms need to move to automation to improve the value of their work.
I learnt in yesterday’s lesson that it is very important for our society to become more aware of how we waste tonnes of food each year in Australia. How it is becoming more important for farms to ensure that any natural water ways are protected from cows trampling the banks and causing erosion.
How the four stomachs of a cow work and that it is important to plant perennials which are deep rooting and handle drought.
Maxine Kelaher


Almost ready

We have made our final video to promote dairy farmers. You can watch it at

These are some photos of the artwork -Udder Brilliance


Current Challenges for Dairy Farmers

The dairy industry in 2013: challenging convictions

(Part of a report from Dairy Australia

The 2012/13 season has proved a difficult one for many dairy farmers, as falling
farmgate prices, higher input costs and unfavourable seasonal conditions combine to challenge the profitability of farm businesses. While many farmers realise the opportunities offered in growing international dairy markets, shortterm
oscillations in returns and profitability have strained finances and are challenging confidence.Variable seasonal conditions in south-eastern Australia, combined with reduced farmgate margins, means there has been little incentive to expand production.In northern ‘drinking milk’ regions there was once again flooding affecting
southern Queensland and northern New South Wales, although not as extensive as in previous seasons. Production has declined in both QLD and NSW, while improved farmgate prices in Western Australia have not been enough to lift production above last year.
Cashflow challenges were brought sharply into focus as many farm businesses struggled to manage milk-to-feed price ratios and variable weather reduced homegrown fodder yields. In some cases falling land prices and higher debt loadings pushed businesses beyond prearranged credit limits and into relyingon extended payment terms from suppliers.Confidence as measured in this year’s National Dairy Farmer Survey (NDFS) has taken a significant step backwards. Challenging production conditions, rising input costs and a persistent focus on the supermarket milk price war have undermined confidence—particularly in northern milk production regions.

Significant variation remains in confidence around the nation as farmers adjust to milk pricing and market dynamics.

The Australian dollar has stabilised between 100-105 US cents, but there is still significant potential for rapid currency fluctuations due to the precarious economic circumstances in the USA and Europe.
In exporting regions, opening price announcements for the 2013/14 season are being developed in a context of elevated global dairy prices, favourable demand and challenging production conditions. While prices for some commodities
have hit fresh highs, concern is mounting around the market’s ability to bear such rapid increases in commodity prices without cannibalizing long-term demand.The outlook for indicative southern farmgate milk prices, based on current commodity price and exchange rate expectations is for an opening price around $5.00/kgMS, up from an average opening price around $4.30/kgMS in
2012. This implies a potential full-year average price around $5.50/kgMS, up from $4.90 to $5.10/kgMS in 2012/13.
The two major supermarkets have announced new sourcing strategies intended to increase farmgate price transparency and improve public relations associated with milk price discounting. Long-term contracts between Coles and
east coast cooperatives and a direct sourcing trial for Woolworths suggest a changing landscape for suppliers.

Nevertheless in drinking milk focused regions, the balancing act between fresh
supply and demand continues as processors adjust their intake requirements
and pricing to meet the demands of a highly competitive retail marketplace.
While the long-term contracts in place are positive, those falling outside of new
agreements harbour some concern around how the situation will develop.











Australian market
Australian consumers remain cautious in their overall spending on household
essentials in addition to reduced spending on discretionary or ‘premium’ items.
Consumers have maintained high household savings levels in response to a
softening housing market and unemployment fears, but have been challenged
by rising costs of health, education, energy and transport.

Retail sales have grown slowly as consumers continue to seek value in
response to a slow recovery in consumer confidence in 2012/13 following
successive interest rate cuts and improved stock market performance.

In response to these settings, intense price competition between the two major
supermarket chains and the expanding discounter Aldi remains the most
significant influences on the retail food market in 2012/13.
The shift in sales volumes from route trade to the supermarket channel has
slowed. Despite a recent recovery in branded milk sales, over the longer term, a
loss of retail sales value in the milk category has occurred due to the change in
sales mix as private label lines have increased share of sales and branded
modified milk sales declined.

There is likely to be an increase in retailers seeking additional product label
information in response to consumer concerns. Themes may include nutrition,
sustainability, environmental impact, energy use and animal welfare standards.
This follows the lead of US and European retailers.

The farm sector in 2013
Production conditions have been challenging across most dairying regions in
Australia. Many parts of south-eastern Australia have been characterised by a
dry spring, and a late or inadequate autumn break.

Western Victoria has suffered from extended dry conditions and a second
season of reduced pasture production. Gippsland experienced overly wet
conditions throughout winter and early spring, followed by a dry summer, as
well as bushfires. Good irrigation allocations in northern Victoria allowed farmers
to maximise pasture production. Whilst production growth has been slowing,
northern Victoria is the only region tracking ahead of milk production last year.
Pastures struggled amidst dry conditions in Tasmania, while SA has been
heavily exposed to high feed and fodder prices. Flood events set back
production in southern QLD and northern NSW, while high grain prices and
challenging conditions early in the season reduced WA milk production.

 Confidence as measured by the NDFS was significantly lower in 2013 with just
43% of farmers positive about the future of the industry. This compares with
66% of positive farmers in 2012, and is the lowest level of confidence recorded
since the inception of the NDFS in 2004 – a year that followed a significant
market downturn and a widespread, severe drought.

Asked to compare the current season’s profitability with the average of the past
five years, 4 out of 5 farmers surveyed in this year’s NDFS expected lower profit

Executive Summary
Dairy 2013:

Situation and Outlook 5

in 2012/13. SA had the greatest proportion of farms expecting lower profitability

(92%) while WA had the lowest (57%).


In line with lower expected profits and declining confidence, the proportion of
surveyed farmers intending to invest on farm over the coming year has declined from 38% in 2012 to 28% in 2013.
ABARES Farm Survey estimates for 2012/13 indicate average farm cash
incomes fell to $95,300, down 33% from the 2011/12 average of $143,000,
but close to 2% below the preceding 10-year average.
Milk production outlook

Australian milk production is expected to reach 9.35bn litres in 2012/13 – down
1.4% on 2011/12 output of 9.48bn litres.

The outlook for 2013/14 is for modest production growth to between 9.4 and
9.6bn litres, based on surveyed herd growth intentions, cow condition and
assuming normal seasonal conditions provide an offset to limited fodder
reserves. Southern exporting regions should lead growth given positive global
prices. Production in domestic supply regions is likely to be flat in response to
market signals and uncertainty around supply contracts.

Based on production intentions for three-year growth recorded in the 2013
NDFS and assuming reasonable seasonal conditions and prices, milk

production could range between 9.8 and 10.2bn litres by 2015/16.

Medium-term prospects


Global markets continue to hold significant potential for the future of the

Australian dairy industry. Population growth and increasing incomes in

developing countries paint a positive picture for dairy demand. However,

questions persist about the most effective way to seize the market opportunity

given the Australian industry’s resources and structure and translate it

effectively into a prosperous farm sector.


Challenging production conditions and declining profitability have drawn

attention to the immediate problems on farm. However, the key question of

what role Australian processors want to play in global markets in the medium

term remains.


A renewed focus on production costs, equity levels, flexible farming systems

and farm business and risk management skills (to manage volatility) will be

critically important to surviving and thriving in future global dairy markets.

Successfully balancing cyclical dairy markets with profitable and sustainable

production systems is fundamental to future dairy industry prosperity.


Major global food corporations are expanding into more ‘traditional’ dairy

categories through innovation and leveraging supply chains and brands. As

transparency around production costs and retail prices improve, efficient supply

chains are becoming the new battle-front for improving profit margins. For the

processing sector, this is likely to mean more right-sizing, optimisation, new

business models and attempts to leverage the improved investment



In anticipation of the removal of production quotas, expansion of EU milk supply

and future consumption expectations, more than $1.2bn US dollars has been,

or is planned for processing investment in Europe. Initial expectations were for

this to go into cheese production facilities for the domestic market. However, it

would appear that large investments are being made in powder drying facilities

for export markets.


Each of the major supply regions has challenges and impediments to further

growth. Be it political contests or production cost structures in the US,

turbulence surrounding the removal of production quotas in the EU, logistics

and infrastructure challenges in South America or environmental constraints

linked with production intensification in NZ.


Additionally, key demand regions including China, India and Russia are trying to

build self-sufficiency, balancing sustainability and securing food to feed growing



Policy settings will continue to play an important role in Australian dairy farmers

continuing to be competitive and profitable into the future. Not only in terms of

competitive access to key demand markets, but to maintain the social licence

to farm and sell dairy.


While decisions on these topics are being made at present, the persistent

volatility of a tight global market balance for dairy will challenge the convictions

of dairy leaders around the globe.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

The final touches and a visit from our Eco champion Megan

We are at the finishing touches stages of our art work.

Rebekah and Chloe working on the calf

Tabetha, Bethany and Miss Jackson working on the digestive system

"I feel empty!"

What a rumen!

Rochelle connects the leads

Settling Udder Brilliance into her pasture base


Jayde lifts 4 million tonnes


That's a lot of digestive system

Megan gives her a kiss

She enjoyed playing dress ups