In 2012 Australia dairy farmers produce 60% more milk from 50% fewer cows than they milked in 1950.
There are 1.65 million dairy cows in Australia.
The average herd size has risen in the last 30 years from 85 cows per farm to 258 cows.
Total milk production per year is 9.2billion litres (2012/2013).
Dairy is Australia's 3rd largest rural industry and is a $13 billion farm, manufacturing and export industry.
Australia exports 40% of its milk production which generates $2.6 billion per annum and accounts for 7% of the world’s dairy trade.
80% of Australia’s milk production occurs in the traditionally higher rainfall areas along the southern and eastern coastlines of Australia in the states of Victoria, New South Wales and Tasmania.
Owner-operated farms dominate the Australian dairy industry.
Share farming was employed on 18% of farms in 2012/2013 and it operates successfully within the family ownership model.
The number of dairy farms has fallen by two-thirds over the last three decades from 20,060 in 1983 to 6,398 in mid-2013. Corporate farms make up just 3% of the total dairy farms.
The most common dairy cow breed in Australia is the Holstein, accounting for some 65–70% of all dairy cattle.
Improvements in herd genetics, pasture management practices and supplementary feeding regimes have seen the average yield per cow increase from 2,850 litres a year to around 5,525 litres in the last 30 years.
Farmers have made many changes to their general farm management practices and adopted a range of improved technologies, including soil testing, fodder conservation, supplementary feeding, improved animal genetics, the use of new milking equipment and techniques, and the widespread use of computers to record and monitor herd performance.
The average yearly consumption per person per year of drinking milk is 107lts and 13.5kgs of cheese.
The first dairy cows arrived in New South Wales in 1788 along with Captain Arthur Philip and the First Fleet. On board were 2 bulls and 7 cows. After 6 years the original 9 animals multiplied to become 61. By the 1800’s this number had grown to 322 bulls and 712 cows.
The main breed of dairy cows found in Australia are:
Dairy cows belong to a group of animals called ruminants. These animals have one stomach with four digestive compartments, each of which plays a different role in digesting food. These compartments are the rumen, the reticulum, the omasum and the abomasum.
It takes 50 to 70 hours for a cow to turn grass into milk.
The Australian record for the most amount of milk produced by one cow in 24 hours is 110 litres
On most farms, dairy cows are milked twice a day in specially designed, electronically controlled milking sheds.