Dairy cattle are found all over Australia. The main places for dairying are areas which have a lot of rainfall. There are seven types of dairy cows. There is the Friesian, the Jersey, the Guernsey, the Ayrshire, the Australian Illawarra Shorthorn, the Dairy Shorthorn and the Red Poll. The Friesian is the biggest dairy cow which weighs 600 to 750kg. The Jersey is the smallest which weighs 425kg. The Red Poll has no horns and could be used for beef as well as dairy.

The first dairy cattle were brought to Australia by the First Fleet in 1788. Amongst their stores and provisions were seven cows, which were to provide dairy products for the colony and convict workers. Over six years, the cattle increased to sixty and by 1880, the number had risen to over 1 000. A large industry had grown from the small beginning. In 1820, supplies of milk, butter and cheese were supplied to New South Wales from Illawarra. Dairying began in Gippsland, Victoria, in 1836 with 155 cows. By 1891, there were over 400 000 cows.

High heat and humidity can cause heat stress in dairy cows. Rainfall is important to dairy farmers because it keeps the food supply level. There are only a few areas where dairy cattle can be kept in big numbers. These areas are mainly Victoria and Tasmania. There are small areas in Queensland, New SOuth Wales, South Australia and the Northern Territory. A drought can be a problem to dairy farmers because rain does not come for a time. It kills all the grass the cows feed on.

For hundreds of years, cows were milked by hand. This was hard work for farmers because cows have to be milked twice a day, every day. There is no time to sleep in or have a day off. In Australia a hundred years ago, things were tough for a dairy farmer. When Henry Lawson was a kid, he worked on his father's farm. He had to get out of bed at 4am to milk the cows and he had to fo the same thing in the afternoon. A lot has changed after many years. The first milking machine was used in 1893. In that year, John Hartnett and David Robinson patented a milking machine which used pulsating vacuum and double chambered teats which
established the principles of modern milking machines. Four suction cups gently suck the milk out like a calf does. The milk goes through a rubber tube and into a jar.

There is only one product from milk and that is milk. Everything else is a by-product. Milk is used in cakes, in cereals and is used for drinking.

Everything made from milk is a by-product. Cheese, butter, cream, yoghurt, ice-cream etc are by-products. Cheese is used as a sandwich topping and in cooking. Cream is used in desserts, in cakes and in tea and coffee. Yoghurt is used for health food. Ice-cream is used for a dessert.

Butter is easy to make. You will need: 300mL of pure cream, the cream labelled "45% milk fat" and a clean 500mL jar with a screw top lid.

If you have a favourite dance tune, turn it on and put the cream into the jar and shake it for the next 12 minutes. Have a look into the jar after 12 minutes and you'll discover butter surrounded by buttermilk.

In recent years, there have been big changes in the amount of dairy products that have been sold to other countries. Until 1973, Great Britain had been our main customer. One of our main customers now is Asia. In 1983 to 1984, the USSR bought 8 000 tonnes of butter. Europe, North Africa, countries in the Arabian Gulf area, Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan also bought large amounts of butter. The Arabian Gulf countries bought 25 482 tonnes of cheese. Most of our casein went to the United States and Japan. Milk fat and ghee were sold in South East Asia, North Africa and the Arabian Gulf areas.

At present, the United States and Europe have more dairy products than they can use. They are trying to sell dairy products to other countries. Their prices are cheaper than what we can afford to sell at. Australian farmers have had to sell at a loss or not sell at all. A lot of changes have been taking place. Dairy farmers have better and cleaner milking sheds and have better machines to use on the farm. Better products are being made. Scientists as well as farmers are helping to make improvements in the future.


1. It takes 10 litres of milk to produce 1kg of cheddar cheese.

2. A milker can milk 8 cows an hour and a machine can milk 9 cows every six minutes.

3. A milk bottle is used 20 times while a carton is used once.

4. Australian dairy farmers produce about 5 200 million litres of milk each year.

5. It takes 20 litres of milk to make 1kg of butter.

6. A farm tanker can hold 25 000 litres of milk.

Click below to go to the next Project.

Wheat by Caitlin

Cotton by Sarah J.

Beef Cattle by Nash

Wool by Alyce

Sugar Cane by Dean

Dairy Cattle by Daniel T.

Timber by Daniel N.

Poultry by Katherine

Pigs by Daniel C.

Peanuts by Geoffrey

Angora Goats by Prue

 Main Page

Created by Glenda Crew