Glossary of a few important dairy farming terms Most common breeds of Australian Dairy Cattle: Holstein – mainly black and white, 1.4million Holstein cows in Australia. Produce large amounts of milk. Jersey – originally from Jersey, fawn in colour, milk is ideal for making butter. Aussie red – bred in Australia, red in colour, milk has a high protein content. Illawarra – developed in new south wales, rich red colour, produce large quantities of milk – some in excess of 40 litres per day. Mastitis : A common infection in dairy cattle which is defined by an inflammation of the mammary gland. Usually caused by bacteria in the teat which has moved to the udder. Herringbone: Cows milked in rows standing at an angle to the milker who stands in a pit at udder level. Rotary: Cows milked on rotating platform.
Glossary of some interesting milk related terms Pasteurisation: involves heating every particle of the milk to a specific temperature for a specified period of time and cooling it again. Destroys all bacteria and improves the keeping quality. Homogenisation: involves pushing the raw milk through an atomizer to form tiny particles so that the fat is dispersed evenly throughout the milk, stopping the fat from floating to the top. Casein: milk protein which is present in the form of very small complexes which reflect light, giving milk it’s whiteness. Centrifugal separation: removes some or all of the cream from milk to produce reduced fat, low fat, or skim milk. Spray drying: removes the remaining water from milk to create powdered milk products.
Australia’s dairy industry Australia has dairy farms across all states and territories however 80 per cent of all dairy farming occurs in the South-Eastern corner of Australia – Vic, SA and Tas. In 2007/2008 there were 7,953 registered dairy farms in Australia with an average herd size of 215, meaning there was approximately 1.6 million dairy cows in total. In 2009/2010 the national dairy herd produced approximately 9,223 million litres of milk. This means that each cow made about 5,445 litres of milk. How times change… In 1980, Australian dairy cows weighed about 500kg and produced about 2800 litres of milk each year. In 2010, Australian dairy cows weighed about 600kg, and produced almost 6000 litres of milk.
From cow to milk Cows can only produce milk after the first calf is born. Cows can produce milk up to 7 - 10 months after giving birth and are usually pregnant within 100 days of giving birth for the first time. Nutrients taken from the grass cows consume are turned into milk by four mammary glands in the udder. Droplets of milk are drained through an opening in the udder. Milk is released from the udder through the teat, then suction from the milking machine draws out the milk. It takes 50-70 hours for a cow to turn grass into milk. Most cows are milked twice a day in electronic milking sheds which are set out in either a herringbone pattern or rotary. Most cows can produce up to 35-50 litres of milk per day. What the future may hold… robotic milking systems (most commonly used in Europe) allow for milking to occur every 6-12 hours instead of the Australian average of 12 – 24 hours.
Cows and their four stomachs Cows are ruminants, which means they have four stomachs and each plays a different role in digesting food. (Goats, sheep, giraffes, and camels are also ruminants.) The Rumen The Reticulum The Omasum The Abomasum
Controversies Environment Methane gas emissions. Animal cruelty Calves are taken from their mothers within 12-24 hours of birth. Slaughtering unwanted dairy calves as waste. Induced calving. Docking of cow’s tails. Dehorning of cows/disbudding of calves. Dairy health myths Milk is not necessary for a healthy human diet and the nutrients it contains are readily available in plant foods such as beans, grains, and many vegetables.