Dairying in the South East

Prepared by: Wilf Bowen

1. Dairying in the South East 1970-1980

During this decade rapid changes occurred in the dairy industry in which the Dairy Branch had considerable involvement. Herd sizes increased, improvements were made in shed design, raising the milking platform as in herringbone or the walk through design, improving yard design eg around yard with the gate controlled electronically, and improved waste disposal.

Bulk water cooled milk was replaced with refrigerated vats in the 1970's and milk meters were introduced for herd recording.

Substantial dairy factory restructuring took place with 10 cheese factories in 1969-70 battling to maintain product quality and subsequent market share. Surplus cheese was exported to Japan as the European market had been closed off and the Japanese implemented their own quality standards which companies found difficult to meet.

This resulted in smaller factories either closing down or being taken over by larger companies.The end result was factories producing cheese reduced to four, with two factories processing marketmilk.

The need for improved quality resulted in dairy companies employing field officers who inconjunction with Dairy Branch staff played a vital role in an Industry Quality Improvement Program.

The resultant product improvement ensured product demand from an assured market, while herd sizes and cow numbers increased significantly. In County Grey, dairy cattle numbers rose from 46,000 in 1966-67 to 50,000 in 1974-75. During the same period producer numbers decreased from 900 in 1967 to 450 in 1975.

The production of butterfat in County Grey increased from 5 to 8 million lbs, with a consequent increase in production per producer and an increase in viability.

2. Extension activities in the Lower South East (1970-1980)

Group Extension was the basis of Mount Gambier staff operations, especially in the agronomy and dairy industries. It comprised:

2.1 Group Extension which included -

  • A Milk Quality Improvement Project in conjunction with the dairy companies.
  • A Problem Solving Group at Glencoe.
  • Improvement in milk handling when converting to bulk milk refrigeration.
  • Milk quality composition assessment.
  • Dairy herd improvement through Herd Improvement Association Groups.
  • Dairy farm education including production and farm business management through TAFE.

The Dairy Extension Group participated in a National Workshop in extension evaluation when B.C. Jefferies, and G.K. Robinson from the Adelaide office and K. W.Bowen presented field work for national evaluation. The group work developed by Dairy Branch staff in the South East was subsequently used as a model for Department of Agriculture extension in other regions and disciplines.

2.2 Industry organisations, in particular The Australian Society of Dairy Technology. Dairy Branch staff provided support and leadership in local activities including improving technology in dairy production and manufacture. K. W.Bowen represented South Australia on the National Training Council based in Victoria.

2.3 General Extension.

This included -

  • Agricultural Bureau meetings, field days, and regional conferences.
  • Regional radio, including local radio and the Country Hour.
  • Regional television production of the weekly sessions "Down to Earth" Initially compered by .K.W.Bowen and involving contributions from all staff.
  • Local press, including a regular column in the Border Watch.
  • Regular meetings with all Mount Gambier extension staff and other regional officers

Dairy staff during this decade included-
Advisers and OIC: K.W. Bowen" 1970-1975, G.R. Norman 1975-1979. S.J. Rice, Head Office.
Field Officers: D.Rose, D.Lewis, B Handscombe, P Rymer, V.Parry. I Carruthers.
Dairy Inspector: R.Perry.