South Australia’s dairy industry accounts for almost a billion dollars in generated revenue. The supply chain stretches from ‘grass to glass’ and is well positioned to target the premium end of the national and international marketplace.

Milk production increased by 0.75% in 2019-2020, in comparison with 2018-19, producing 492.9 million litres of milk from around 206 dairy (cow) farms.

Over the past 40 years, the number of dairy farms in Australia has fallen by almost 75% to 5,213 in 2018-19. In SA, dairy farm numbers (cows) decreased by 2.8%, from 212 in 2018-2019 to 206 in 2019-2020.

In addition to cow dairy operations, there were two sheep, five goat, one buffalo and one camel dairy operating. Five cow dairy farms process their own milk, while one goat, sheep and camel dairy farm also process their own milk.

In terms of dairy farm herd size, the average farm herd in Australia increased from 93 cows in 1985 to 276 cows in 2019. In comparison, the majority (70%) of South Australian dairy farms hold between 500 and 1,001 milking cows, with the average herd size in South Australia being 337, a significant increase from the average SA herd size of 78 in 1984.

The majority of milk production occurs in the South East (57% of SA production), followed by the Central region (40%), with the lowest production in the Mid North region (3%).

In terms of production and yield, SA has world leading dairy yields. In 2019-2020 SA dairy farms produced 492.9 million litres of cow’s milk from 69,377 cows, an average yield of 7,105 litres per cow. This compares with 3,656 litres/cow in SA in 1985 and Australia’s national average of 6,169 litres/cow in 2019.

The largest dairy farms are in the South East with an average of 478 cows/farm, significantly more than in the Central region (247) and more than double the Mid North (171). The milk yield per farm is greatest in the South East (>3.3M litres), followed by the Central (>1.8M) region, with the yield in the Mid North significantly lower at (0.89M).

South Australia has consistently delivered around 5.4% to 5.6% of national milk production over the past five years.

The information contained in this article was sourced from the Dairysafe 2019-2020 Annual Report. Read the Annual Report here.