Prepared by: Wilf Bowen
In this period many properties were too small to be dependant on sheep and cropping. Cash flow was maintained with a small dairy herd often operated by the women and children on the farm using hand milking. Gradually portable bucket machines were introduced. Some large herds - twenty or more cows- installed overhead machines in walk through dairies. Some dairies installed raised two step bails.
Improvements in dairy management included shed design, milking machine selection and operation and disease control- especially mastitis - resulting in improved milk and cream quality. Three herd improvement groups were active especially in stud herds.(These groups supervised by Department of Agriculture Officers employed their own herd tester, recording individual cow production on a monthly basis in herds in their group).
With the introduction of the cream separator it was possible to store cream in 2-5 gallon cream cans which was collected at the roadside or transported by road or rail to the local butter factory. By the end of the decade many larger herds had converted to whole milk production. Milk was, cooled by water coolers with water circulated from bores or underground tanks and stored in 10 gallon cans. Daily collection by milk trucks conveyed the milk to Golden North Dairies at Clare, Port Pirie,Laura and Greenock in the Barossa.
As most calvings occurred in autumn coinciding with the season break, milk production reached its peak in winter and spring, tailing off in summer and early autumn when milk solids also declined to below legal standards.
With the reduction in the supply of cream the end decade saw the closure of many butter factories.
The production and sale of whole milk saw a marked increase in herd size especially around Clare, Laura and the Barossa. Evaporative water towers and ice banks were installed along with cool rooms and refrigerated bulk milk vats for milk storage. Alternate day collection was trailed in the cooler months.
Packaging of whole milk progressed from bottles to Tetra Pak cartons. Heat treatment of milk improved and the addition of solids ensured that milk met minimum standards. Surplus milk was used for cheese, butter and ice cream. In times of shortage, accommodation milk was brought from the Adelaide Hills.
With the improvement in pasture management and the use of irrigation for pasture and lucerne production, producers were able to change their calving patterns and receive benefits from incentives offered for off season milk production.
One exception was the Friesian herd which had supplied milk to the township of Whyalla using irrigation from the Murray River pipeline. It was converted to dry feeding using hay and grain and continued to supply Whyalla with bottled milk for many years.
Through out the Mid North, Yorke Peninsula and the Barossa the management of dairy herds improved, benefiting from improvements in hygiene, milking machines and shed design. Raised bails and herringbone sheds became popular. Manufacturers of milk products began to offer incentive payments for improved milk quality. The use of methylene blue as an indicator of bacterial cells in milk coupled with total bacterial plate counts persuaded producers to be more careful of dairy hygiene and enabled manufacturers to improve the quality of the end product.
In 1960 there were 1,600 cream suppliers and 570 whole milk suppliers. There were 10 cream depots, 2 butter factories, 1 cheese factory and 2 whole milk processing plants. By 1970 there were 1,940 cream suppliers and 560 whole milk suppliers, with a substantial increase in produce sold as whole milk. There were two butter factories, one cheese factory and three whole milk processors.
Dairy farm management was improving with five Herd Improvement Associations operating and with consequent interest in all aspects of farm management including feeding, breeding and herd management.
The implementation of the Metropolitan Milk Supply Act (1946) determined the southern boundary of the Dairy Branch in the Mid North area.
Extension services for dairy farmers included farm visits, advising on feeding, breeding, milking methods, dairy shed management, design and improvement, effluent disposal, milk and cream handling and transport, and calf rearing. An emphasis was given to milking machine efficiency and product quality.
Group activity included Agricultural Bureau talks, field days and conferences, Herd Improvement Association meetings and field days, meetings with the suppliers of dairy companies and meeting-with farmers at local Agricultural Shows.
Mass media was widely used on ABC country radio, with articles in local newspapers, the Chronicle, and the Agricultural Journal.
Emergency services: During the 1956 River Murray flood when cows were displaced from irrigated swamp land pastures, Dairy Branch staff assisted with dry feeding regimes and fodder distribution.
Personnel: In 1956 Arthur Hooper was appointed Rural Youth Coordinator. He was replaced by Wilf Bowen. Three herd recorders operated the three Herd Improvement Associations.
District Dairy Adviser Wilf Bowen was a part of a significant extension and regulatory team at Jamestown. Coordinated activities included animal and plant quarantine, weed and pest control(including nagoora burrand locusts). The newly introduced "Whole Farm Approach" initiated by Bob Herriot of the Adelaide office was also part of the activity.
A trial was conducted to integrate advisory staff into Farm Business Management involving all farm disciplines within the district.
Mass media included local radio, newspapers, Chronicle and Agricultural Journal.
Extension included feeding and herd improvement with Field Officer Bert Bell overseeing 5 Herd Improvement Groups from Clare. Particular attention was paid to milking techniques including hygiene, mastitis control and efficient machine milking. A free milking machine testing service resulted in up to 50 machines being tested each year. This provided an opportunity for extension into all aspects of milking management, shed design and milk handling.
Liaison with Dairy Companies increased with the emphasis on whole milk supply to northern towns. Milk quality was monitored regularly and processing methods were improved in conjunction with Milk Products Section staff in Adelaide, with the objective of maintaining a reliable supply throughout the year.
Wilf Bowen spent four months leave in New Zealand in 1967 which included working with Dr Whittleston and research staff at the Ruakura Dairy Research Centre involving milking machine operations and dairy shed design throughout the Waikato area where there were larger herds and the herringbone design was being developed.
In 1968 Wilf transferred to the South East where developments similar to those in the Mid North were occurring. His role in the Mid North was taken over by Russ Bowden based at Nuriootpa and Bert Bell at Clare, who maintained contacts in the Mid North and Yorke Peninsula.