Despite the drought in NSW our dairy farmers keep us supplied with milk. I took some time to discover what actually goes on in producing milk and was extremely surprised at the science and dedication behind keeping a dairy farm when I visited Farmers Own in Coopernook near Taree.
I was there to learn about the milking process at the 3.00 pm session having kindly knocked back the 3.00 a.m. session. Julian, the owner of the dairy does the 3.00 a.m. milking session 7 days a week, and his farm hand, Brandon looks after the 3.00 p.m. run. It's a fascinating process so please read on if you would like to learn more about Farmers Own dairy.
Julian told me that the cows are cautious and they will keep one eye on me and the other eye to find a quick escape route should I be a threat! I was soon to discover they certainly did keep an eye me as they lined up for their milking process and when they left. The 200 herd had been rounded up from the paddock and were now patiently waiting for milking. The truth is they probably really wanted to get to the grain that they enjoy eating during the milking process.
The cows get to eat 6kg of grain at each milking which costs the farm $240,000 a year and that's just one of the expenses the farmer has to meet. There is also the water bill and cows drink a lot of water (there's no natural dam on this farm) electricity, wages, vets fees, breeding costs, and the list goes on.
Farmers Own milk goes directly to Woolworths saving them a substantial amount of money in processing fees. You might not think 1 cent could add up to a lot of money but look at this calculation: One cow produces 20L of milk per day, 200 cows is the size of an average dairy farm, a total of 4,000L per day, 1,460,000L per year at 1c = $14,600 per year. Now if the processor is taking 4 cents off the already agreed price, that's nearly $60,000 out of the farmers income.
Farmers Own supply Woolworths directly cutting out the processing fees and helping retain profit to keep the farm running. Read More
THE MILK PROCESSING
The cows are herded from the paddock and wait patiently for the milking process
The teats cups are automatically downloaded. They are washed out with an with iodine-based germicide automatically
Teats cups are manually placed on cow and the milking process begins
A computerised machine records the number of the cow and the amount of milk that was produced. Each cow is microchipped (not in the skin, they swallow a capsule that can't be excreted) and this records the number of the cow and the amount of milk produced which is then transferred to computer program
The milk travels through the milk lines to the vat
The cow enjoys the grain as the short milking process begins - milk comes out out 34 degrees and is cooled down to 4 degrees once it passes through the milk lines and arrives into the vat
After the milking the cows are released and they walk back to their paddock to graze and rest
The teats are cleaned again and the next group come in for milking as the process starts again
My observation are that the animals are treated well and processes are in place to ensure they don't get infections such as Mastitis, and if that does happen, the vet is called straight away. Out of the 200 odd herd today, 3 were being treated for the infection.
Scroll through the photos to see the process.
Julian also showed me how they keep track of the cows through the computer system, plus two very unusual manual systems, he tells me that they can cross check on these systems on how much milk is produced, when a cow needs to birth and all sorts of information important to the wellbeing of the herd and the farm.
The gallery below shows the computer and two wall charts.
FUN COW FACT
When they walk, the cow will place it's back hoof in the exact same place where the front one indented the ground.
There's a lot more to dairy farming than this little story, but now you have some idea on the process of getting your milk from farm to to table.