Happy holsteins: Stoddart farm cows are fed and milked at the same time.
Happy holsteins: Stoddart farm cows are fed and milked at the same time. Scott Powick

Fresh take on moo-ving milk at Tylagum

A TYALGUM dairy farmer has worked out how to milk cows three times as fast.

On the back of huge success with the Norco milk co-op, Ron and Lorraine Stoddart have drastically improved the speed at which they milk and feed their 130 holstein cows.

They’ve combined the feeding and milking operations, enabling them to put all cows in the bale at one time.

It now takes 50 minutes to milk 130 cows, where before it took close to three hours.

Norco’s supply field officer Bill Fulkerson said the innovative system was the only one of its kind in Australia, helping the Stoddarts to produce about 680,000 litres of milk annually.

Other dairy farmers will be attending a field day at the Stoddarts’ 140 hectare property to see how they can copy the technique.

NEW METHOD: Tyalgum dairy farmer Ron Stoddart tends to his cows for the afternoon milking session. Stoddart Farm has a new dairying system in which the cows are miked and fed at the same time.
NEW METHOD: Tyalgum dairy farmer Ron Stoddart tends to his cows for the afternoon milking session. Stoddart Farm has a new dairying system in which the cows are miked and fed at the same time. Scott Powick

“Nobody has really done it, but I’m really happy with the outcome,” Mr Stoddart told the Tweed Daily News.

The third generation farmer said the family could now concentrate on increasing their herd to 250, to meet booming export demand.

“We’re trying to increase our profitability on the farm, to produce more milk with less labour.”

The new milking method couldn’t have come at a better time, with Norco increasing its net profit by 520% last financial year to $3.1 million.

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Norco president Brett Kelly said the profit rise was mostly due to the company’s trading deal into China last year - the first of its kind in Australia.

The deal sold milk from $7 - $11 a litre and saw a “phenomenal” flow on effect in marketing domestically.

“We have a little bit of stability in terms of volume, we’re also now exploring interest for ice-cream products,” Mr Kelly said.

“There are other countries competing to get into the market but Australia and New Zealand are seen as clean and green and have the competitive edge.”

Mr Stoddart said on the ground farmers still felt some uncertainty about the industry but Mr Kelly had reassured them Norco had solid business plans.

“The strategy for fresh milk into China is long term, it’s on our five year plan to increase volume,” Mr Kelly said.

“The brand has lifted financially and in Australia and domestically our last year sales were up 20%.

“Our volume has increased and our profitability has gone up and we’ve put that back in the farm gate.

“On average across all of Australia, we are paying the highest farm gate price, which we’re really proud of.”

Mr Kelly said Norco had also made in-roads into Indonesia, Malaysia and Philippines and the company now had a business development manager focussing on export to Asia.

“We’re building a whole other export channel, so we don’t have all our eggs in the one basket,” he said.

There’s over 200 members in the Norco co-op and it is the only remaining Australian owned diary co-op. Norco’s Murwillumbah outlet links about eight dairy farmers from the Shire to the Lismore headquarters.

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“It is a tough industry farmers have been in, but we have a strong business and excellent brand name, we’re 100% owned by our farmers,” Mr Kelly said.

“Our aim is to continue so we can continue to put more into the farm gate.

“We’d like to see farmers with succession planning, so kids can go back to the farm to continue that profitability.”

DID YOU KNOW?

One of the most popular drinks in China is a "cheese creamsicle" which is cocoa, salt and cheese blended into a cup of milk



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