Australian Milk Quality Awards
The Australian Milk Quality Awards recognise farms across Australia with an annual average bulk milk cell count (BMCC) in the lowest 5%.
To be eligible, dairy farms must have BMCC data supplied by their processor for a minimum of nine months in a calendar year. Monthly averages are then used to calculate the annual average BMCC for each farm and the winners are the top 5% of farms with the lowest BMCC.
The winning farms receive a silver plaque for their gates and those in the top 100 receive a gold plaque.
The Awards enable the industry to celebrate success. It is a great collaboration between dairy companies and Dairy Australia's Countdown program.
2020 Milk Quality Award winners
The 2020 winners of Dairy Australia’s Milk Quality Awards have been announced, showcasing dairy farmers in the top 100 and top five per cent nationwide for milk quality, based on bulk milk cell count (BMCC).
The Milk Quality Awards show Aussie farmers are continuing to deliver high-quality milk and safeguarding the health of their animals.
Dairy Australia is continuing to support farmers to build the skills of their people on-farm, improve their milk quality and prevent udder infections through world-renowned training courses such as Countdown, Cups On Cups Off and Milking and Mastitis Management.
To celebrate the latest Milk Quality Awards, renowned mastitis expert Rod Dyson explains how farmers can improve their milk quality through better mastitis control. Listen to the podcast.
Dairy farmers can access regular workshops by contacting their local Dairy Australia’s regional team.
See the full winner list from each region below.
Note: Farm names and regions are listed as provided by the farm’s milk processor. For any issues, please contact your milk processor directly.
The top 100 suppliers in Australia based on BMCC
Dairy Australia congratulates the Top 100 suppliers in Australia based on bulk milk cell count (BMCC).
ASHDALE 55 PTY LTD
ASHLEY J FIEDLER
BD & KL MITCHELL
C & R CAVALLARO
CL FREEMANTLE PTY LTD
COOWONGA FAMILY TRUST
D & M COLBERT
DOUGLAS JW & VL
HIBBERSON C. & N.
JONES S.G & S.J
RA & HJ DOOLAN PTY LTD
RJ & JR RIXON PTY LTD
RJ PERKINS & SF EVANS
S.J. & A.K. CHRISTOPHER
SC & VJ WINCHESTER
STEPHENS H. & S.
WJ & A STAMMERS
A N BUCKLEY
ARALUEN PASTORAL HOLDINGS P/L
BALLANGEICH RUN PTY LTD
BLAIN DAIRYING PTY LTD
CA & AL DURO
CA & KL SPOKES FAMILY TRUST
CARRAKOORTE NORTH PTY LTD
CL & CL COSTIN
CL & JM DRAKE
CP & MJ NIJSKENS
CW & AM SMART
DC JOHNSON PTY LTD
DENBIGH PASTORAL TRUST
DG HALLYBURTON & RS HALLYBURTON
DIXIE RIDGE FARM PTY LTD
GA & JL CROTHERS
GARDINER M & L
GF & RL LLOYD
GLENMEAD PTY LTD - ATF SMITH FARM TRUST
GUYE FAMILY TRUST
HOWARD FARM TRUST
HU VOGEL AND S VOGEL
HW & BE ELLIOTT
I.R & J.A RHODE
J- S & T BROWN PTY LTD
KANGERTONG FARMING PTY LTD
KP CAMPBELL & THE CAMPBELL FAMILY TRUST
LAANG FARM PARTNERSHIP
LJ BALCOMBE GENERAL TRANSPORT P/L ATF BALBAT TRADING TRUST
LOWE H.F.& F.A.
ML & KE RYAN
NOLANE INVESTMENTS P/L ATF LESTIN INVEST DISCRETIONARY TRUST
NUNN I.G. & R.L.
P.A & K.M FINLAYSON
POWELL DAIRY FARMS PTY LTD AFT WARRABOON FARM
RC & SJ METHVEN
RF & NP BOURK
RJ & EH SWAYN
ROBERTSON AM & TJ
SEABROOK HOLDINGS (VIC) PTY LTD
SJ & AE WATSON PTY LTD
THE TRUSTEE FOR B & R COUCH FAMILY TRUST
THE TRUSTEE FOR EIRENCLARE FARMS UNIT TRUST
THE TRUSTEE FOR SCOTTS CREEK DAIRIES FAMILY TRUST
TJ & CJ BEASLEY
UDDERLY FED UP PTY LTD
VDL DAIRIES LTD ISLAND VIEW
WILLIE HAWKER PTY LTD
WJ & VL CROLE FAMILY TRUST
ASKEW K.D. & I.M.
D & S MCCANN
DW & CG & FC & DL ARMSTRONG
GREEN D.G. & D.L.
J H CUTHBERTSON PTY LTD
JIM & HEATHER HARVEY
MOSS T.K. & S.P.
RL & B LADE
S & J BLAND
S B & I F DERRICK
T.L. GEARY (91-1)
TARAGO RIVER FARMS PTY LTD
THE TRUSTEE FOR POTTER FAMILY TRUST
WALTHAM G.V. & J.L.
HARRISON HD & CO.
IAN & RUTH MCGREGOR
M & A BRETT
New South Wales
HILLGROVE DAIRY PTY LTD
NC & V JOINER
NG & NG & TJ PEARCE T/A WARWICK FARM ENTERPRISES
B & J WIECK
GRIFFITHS MA & TM
ZISCHKE DG AL GR & MD
D.M DAFFY & G.A DAFFY
DO & KM HUNTER
DOUGLAS JW & VL
DUNBAR FAMILY TRUST
HEATHCOTE R.M. & L.M.
MOUNT PATRICK ESTATE
SHEFFIELD SCHOOL FARM
WILLIE TA & SON
The top five per cent of suppliers in Australia based on BMCC
Dairy Australia congratulates the top five per cent of suppliers in Australia based on bulk milk cell count (BMCC).
A2 - HIBBERSON J.L. & J.M
AJ & LC DENNIS
AURORA DAIRIES - MIREMBEEK
BJ & JR GLEDHILL
BOWERS D.J. & L.J.
BROOKBORA PTY LTD
COLLINS D.F & N.M
COLNARCO PTY LTD
COUSTON D.N. & A.M.
DG & MJ KERR
GUNDOWRING FARMS PTY LTD
HOLLINGWORTH G.E. & B.A.
ID & AM HOLLOWAY
J & AJ CIPRIANI
J.M. & A.M. MINOGUE
M/S K.J. & F.I. FITZSIMMONS
MCKILLOP PASTORAL COMPANY
MOORE DAIRYING PTY LTD
P.G. & H.B. ROBINSON
RG & JC LOCHHEAD
ROMANS P.W. & R.M.
SCARLET LODGE PTY LTD
WJ & LC PORTWINE
ADAMS JR & DJ
AH & VM BOND
ALNOR PARTNERS (2)
AR & LW BEARD AND AJ & SL BIDMADE
B.W & K.M BOYD
BURLEIGH JT & AL
C D BAULCH
CARMICHAEL KJ & WE
CONHEADY G.M. & C.A.
CORNEBY P.G. & J.M (FARM 2)
DARCY B. J. & E.J.
DIXIE PARK PTY LTD
DJ & LR BROWN
FG & PG VAN BERGEN
FREEDOM DAIRYING PTY LTD ITF THE FREE DAIRYING TRUST
GJ & LL PITMAN
GL & VM WICKHAM
GREY AM & EM PTY LTD
JA & CM POUW
JINJARRA FAMILY TRUST
JM & HF BEGELY NO.2
KENNY JM & GB SONS
KERR AG & JF
MA & TL NEVILL
MACDEB ENTERPRISES PTY LTD
MCVILLY B.R. & Y.C.
MD & SA HINKLEY PTY LTD
MICHAEL & NICOLE UEBERGANG
NEW LIFE DAIRIES TRUST T/A NEW LIFE DAIRIES PTY LTD
PARKER D.J. & W.J
PG & AC PARSONS
PG & CM MOLONEY
PJ & GF THORNTON
SA & P REA FAMILY TRUST
SUTHERLAND G P & S
THE BEN & MELISSA HOLLOWAY FAMILY TRUST
THE CLAINE FARM TRUST
THE TRUSTEE FOR EIRENCLARE FARMS UNIT TRUST
THE TRUSTEE FOR FERNLEA PARK TRADING TRUST
AM & DJ ZUIDEMA
C & P LOUGHRIDGE
C.A & S.M HUGHES
CUTHBERTSON J.H. P/L
DALY N.L. & M.L.
IF & CA HAW
KENNEY R.P. & M.J.
KW & HL JONES PTY LTD
LINEHAM AGRICOL PTY LTD
MARCRITA PTY LTD
MATTHEW & ROSALIE COLEMAN
MC KENZIE M.T. & A.E.
MORGAN T. & K.
N L & R M DAVIS
OAKDALE DAIRIES PTY LTD
OLSEN R.L. & KNIGHT N.M.
PUGH A.J. & SCHELLEKENS J.A.
R & C TYLEE
RUSSELL PRATT AND SUE HATFIELD
TEMPLETON R.B. & J.M.
THE TRUSTEE FOR MCARTHUR FAMILY TRUST
V STEPHENS & J SAUNDERS
VAN DEN BROEK L.W. & P.J.
WHITTEN S.D. & K.A.
WILMS M.L & L.M
GA & LE JENKINS
J & C ITALIANO FAMILY TRUST
RANCHWAY P/L (R&N MAY)
RG & EJ MOODY T/A GLENWOOD ESTATE
RJ & G PARRAVICINI
WALSALL DAIRY (LETCHFORD)
New South Wales
EMERTON C.R. & D.
MR & AC SHIPTON
R & J WENHAM
A.J SYMONS & P.M SYMONS (FARM 2)
B.L LENEHAN & T.F LENEHAN
AM & DJ ZUIDEMA
C & P LOUGHRIDGE
C.A & S.M HUGHES
CUTHBERTSON J.H. P/L
FARM PROPHETS FARM PROFITS PTY LTD
BURTT S.A. & A.D.
CORRIGAN NC & NE
DRIFT INN DAIRY
KN & YM LAWRENCE
KROPF M.J. & L.R.
MC LENNANS HOLDINGS PTY LTD
L & K SCHUURING
MULDER ENTERPRISES PTY LTD
NORTH VIEW ESTATE
S.R.J. & W.A. WILSON PTY LTD
The case studies below provide a snapshot of how winners from each region have achieved their high milk quality.
South West Victoria - Lex and Rachael Moloney
Lex and Rachael Moloney named gold medal winners in 2020 Milk Quality Awards
After multiple silver awards for milk quality, Lex and Rachael Moloney have been named as gold medal winners in the 2020 Milk Quality Awards.
Lex and Rachael have been back on Lex’s family farm at Dixie, near Terang for six years. Over that time they have overseen an increase in cow numbers from 280 to a now 500 strong, autumn calving herd. Throughout that period of expansion, a strong focus on herd health, investment in infrastructure and a consistent approach to mastitis management has enabled their milk to remain in the top band for milk quality.
“I don’t think we do anything different to other farmers,” Lex said.
“We are consistent in what we do. We keep a close eye on the filter sock and I check the SCC on a daily basis, when there are clots on the filter or the SCC goes over 100,000 we start looking where the issue is and strip the herd to find the culprit. We only strip the herd when there’s an issue, it isn’t something we do as a routine.”
The 50-stand rotary dairy is fitted with ACR’s and auto teat spray. Inflations are changed every six months, with the plant serviced in line with Quality Assurance guidelines.
The increase in cow numbers has led to two full-time employees joining the farm team. Both have completed the Cups On Cups Off training course.
“It’s something we happily put employees through if they are interested, especially with less experienced staff. It helps them develop their skills and helps the farm too, so it’s a win-win really. The guys working here now are very good at mastitis detection which certainly helps,” Rachael said.
Lex and Rachael have worked with their vet to develop treatment protocols for when a case of mastitis is detected. The severity of the infection is graded and then treated accordingly, with more severe cases receiving intramuscular antibiotics and anti-inflammatories in addition to intramammary tubes.
“When we find a case of mastitis the cow is drafted out and milked at the end to minimise the risk of cross contamination. Then we will look at the cow and her history to decide on the best way forward. Cows that are treated with antibiotics are well marked and milked at the end of milking to reduce the risk of antibiotic contamination,” Lex said.
“We do have a fairly strict culling policy, especially when it comes to cows getting reinfected in the same lactation, particularly if it’s the same quarter. All factors are considered before deciding on the best course of action.
“If we have a few cases close together we often take samples and send them off to be cultured so that we know exactly which bug we are dealing with and can treat it accordingly. There have also been times that we’ve frozen a sample and then sent it to be tested if a few more cases are found.
“On-farm culturing is something we are interested in looking at. Being able to take a sample and know in 24hrs exactly what we are dealing with and have written protocols around each of the potential results is something to work towards,” he added.
A technology that has already been embraced is cow activity monitors. The herd was fitted with collars in February this year. In addition to the data regarding heat detection, the couple has already noticed the potential for rumination information to assist them in identifying unwell cows earlier, including those with mastitis.
“Early detection of mastitis is key to maintaining a low SCC and our team are very good at that, but we are always looking for ways we can improve. With a bit more time and understanding of all the available data, I think the collars will help us further improve cow health as well as hopefully improve in-calf rates,” Lex said.
When it comes to dry cow therapy, all cows receive dry cow tubes and are teat sealed. “The first season we were back on the farm we had a lot of heifers come in with mastitis, probably about 20%. We didn’t want to go through that again so started teat sealing them and now all the cows have that as well as blanket dry cow antibiotics. Selective dry cow therapy is something we may look into, but we don’t herd test, so I’d be cautious about not doing, say the first calvers, then having issues in the next lactation,” Lex said.
“Going forward there are areas we will look to improve on, but overall, we are pretty happy with where we are at. We will continue to concentrate on herd health, prevention is always better than cure.
“I enjoy taking pride in what we do and in the quality of the product we produced,” Lex said.
South Australia - Brett Fiebig
‘Keeping it simple’ pays off for SA dairyfarmer
A singular focus on the health and happiness of cows has paid off for Strathalbyn farmer Brett Fiebig, who has just been been listed in the top five per cent of producers in the 2020 Australian Milk Quality Awards. The awards recognise the farms with the highest milk quality in Australia based on bulk milk cell count (BMCC).
For just under four years, Brett has been leasing 240 acres of dry land milking between 100 to 130 cows all year round. Prior to this he was sharefarming with his parents in Mt Gambier for six years.
“After starting my own dairy farming business in 2017 - and leasing the owners cows – I have since bred up my own numbers of registered animals to the point where I no longer need to lease cows,” Brett explained.
“This has resulted in a younger herd of cows which has led to a higher quality cell count”.
The listing in the 2020 Milk Quality Awards still came as a surprise to Brett, who admits it wasn’t something he was particularly aiming for.
“Being listed in the awards is an honour, and makes me realise that the focus I’ve had on the health of my cows does pay in the end,” he said.
Brett said there was no ‘big secret’ to producing high quality milk but credits it to keeping a close eye on each cow’s health and wellbeing, maintaining thorough hygiene practices, and having a passion for the dairy industry.
Brett is a sole operator, doing all the milking himself which allows him an extra level of vigilance on his cows. In turn, his herd has minimal mastitis issues with the payoff being a quality cell count.
He attributes the quality cell count to factors including low stress stock handling by not using dogs, eliminating water around udders when milking, and maintaining the milking plant to a high standard.
“My top three priorities are to keep a close eye on cows milking out correctly, teat spraying and keeping the cows well fed,” Brett explains.
“I believe the low bulk milk cell count is very much related to the health and happiness of the animals, and my approach is pretty simple - “happy cows equals quality milk”.’
Dairy farmers can access a range of resources to improve milk quality and prevent mastitis our Mastitis page.
More information on Cups On Cups Off courses can be found by contacting Dairy Australia’s Regional Development Programs in each dairy region.
West Gippsland - David Johnson
High standards and animal care get this West Gippsland farm into the Top 100
For West Gippsland farmer David Johnson, high milk quality isn’t just a matter of pride or receiving a premium milk cheque - it’s about producing high-end cheese that value adds to his farm business.
David’s 400 cow farm at Neerim South has been named in the top 100 of the Dairy Australia Milk Quality Awards.
The award is recognition for David and his staff, who are all committed to producing high quality products under the Tarago River Cheese Company brand, as well as supplying Burra Foods.
“It’s always nice to keep improving,” he said.
“My staff are the ones that are doing the grind, day in day out, and it is good recognition of their skills.”
David said it’s the high standards of staff and the care they take of the animals that helps keep the cows healthy and producing milk with low bulk cell counts.
“I believe if you focus on doing the little things well the results take care of themselves,” he said.
“Having content and quiet cows that aren’t stressed also helps.”
When it comes to the nitty gritty of mastitis prevention, David cites teat spraying, blanket dry cow and teat sealing at dry off, good shed hygiene standards and herd testing as the four key steps towards success.
Maintaining high standards over a long period is a challenge for any farm, with David viewing communication as a key plank in an ongoing mastitis prevention program.
“It’s mainly chatting to other farmers and learning what they are doing,” he said.
“We also meet often with staff to discuss and improve systems and there’s plenty of material online and on the DA website that we can access.
“I’ve also done Cups On Cups Off along with my two key staff.
“If staff are training and learning new skills they seem to get more satisfaction from their work. The ESKI and DA website are both very good resources for our industry.”
The bottom line for David is high quality milk means a better experience for his customers.
“Having excellent quality milk and low cell count gives our cheesemakers the best chance to produce excellent quality cheese,” he said.
Dairy Australia’s Milk Quality Awards recognise farmers who produce the nation’s best milk based on bulk milk cell count (BMCC). Gold Awards recognise the ‘top 100’ dairy farmers nationwide for milk quality, while Silver Awards are given to the top five per cent of producers.
Western Australia - The Fitzpatricks
Calm cows a winning formula
Switching the radio off is just one of the strategies Western Australian dairy farmers Luke and Vicki Fitzpatrick believe helps their herd of 200 cows keep calm, quiet and generally mastitis-free.
The Fitzpatricks are among the Top 100 farmers in the country this year producing the best quality milk, determined by their bulk milk cell count (BMCC) results.
A fourth-generation farmer, Mr Fitzpatrick has been milking since 1997 in an 11-a-side double up dairy on a 200 hectare milking platform at Waroona, about an hour’s drive south of Perth.
Mr Fitzpatrick said his family achieved a low BMCC, and their seventh annual Gold Milk Quality Award in a row, by being attuned to mastitis prevention and detection.
“We have bred calm, quiet cows and we keep noise to a minimum in the dairy, hence no radio! Cows enter the dairy of their own accord, we wait for milk let down, and do a precise and thorough teat spray post-milking,” he explained.
“We’ve had great results with our triangular vented cup liners – there is almost no slippage. We also use Ambic in-line mastitis detectors to help pick up any clinical mastitis cases quickly. We use teat seal on all cows and herd test every month to find any high BMCC suspects.”
Mr Fitzpatrick said most farmers got a kick out of some aspect of dairying, but he particularly enjoyed maintaining milk quality.
“I personally took it on twenty years ago to get on top of the count. I try to keep the BMCC around 50 as this gives me a bit of leeway if we get a spike, and it doesn’t take much to slip into grade two milk which I want to avoid.
“So far, so good, as we haven’t been in grade two for many years. In fact, a few weeks ago we had a BMCC count of 13 and our lowest ever was nine,” he said.
The Fitzpatricks calve two-thirds of their herd from March to May and the remaining third over November and December. While that is the most profitable calving pattern for their farm, it also means they avoid calving in the muddier Winter months.
Twenty years ago, they chose to stop feeding their heifer calves antibiotic milk to restrict development of antibiotic resistance in the herd.
“It might be saving some farmers money now but then it may come back to bite them in the form of antibiotic resistance. It’s a choice that we’ve made and the proof is in the health of our herd and quality of our milk,” Mr Fitzpatrick said.
On the breeding front, Vicki chooses their bulls based on profitability but also selects for good mastitis and temperament scores.
“Back in the day the heifers were a nightmare. Now they’re angels… just a beautiful animal to work with,” he said.
“We almost never have a heifer with a poor temperament – a testament to good LIC Kiwi genetics. Vicki is a Kiwi!”
Keeping himself and employees trained in the latest milking practices is another investment Mr Fitzpatrick has made to produce top quality milk.
“I’ve completed Dairy Australia’s Cups On Cups Off course and I get all our staff to do it. Before doing the course I thought that I’d learned it all, but I still learned new things which have been helpful.
“We’ve been in the top five per cent for milk quality since 2004, bar one year. There’s a large and often underestimated financial gain in achieving these results and it’s personally satisfying for us,” he added.
Fitzpatrick’s top tips for maintaining a low bulk cell count
Keep cows calm
Wait for milk let down before cupping
Do a precise and thorough teat spray