Each year, Dairysafe, with the support of our accredited businesses, collects critical industry data on farms, businesses, milking stock and litres of milk produced.

Key industry data collected in 2021/2022 is presented below, in our South Australian dairy snapshot.

Milk production

  • South Australian milk production in 2021/22 was 497.7M litres (down 0.3% on the previous year).
  • Annual milk production decreased in all Australian jurisdictions in 2021/2022 contributing to an overall decrease in national production of -3.9% to 8,554.2M litres.
  • SA contributes around 5.8% of national production.

Farm numbers

  • There is a continued downward trend in dairy farm numbers in SA and across Australia’s dairy regions. Over 2021 to 2022 the number of dairy cow farms reduced around Australia by about 8.6%, which also represented the reduction in SA dairy farm numbers.
  • The number of active dairy farms (cow) in SA on 30 June 2022 was 181 (a reduction of 17 on 2020/21).
  • While the number of farms has decreased, the average herd size continues to increase in South Australia, being 374 milking cows/herd for this reporting period compared to 349 cows/herd in 2020/21.
  • In addition to the accredited cow dairies, there is also 1 sheep, 5 goat, 2 buffalo and 1 camel dairy operating in 2021/22.
  • Three cow dairy farms process their own milk, while 1 goat, buffalo, sheep and camel dairy farm also process their own milk.

Production areas

  • SA’s dairy farms are clustered across 3 production areas, the Mid-North (Barossa & districts), Central region (Adelaide Hills, Fleurieu Peninsula, Murray Swamps & Meningie Lakes), and the South-East (Upper & Lower South-East).
  • The majority of milk production occurs in the South-East (58%), followed by the Central region (37%), with 5% production occurring in the Mid North region.

Herd sizes

  • The average size of a dairy farm herd in Australia has increased from 93 cows in 1985 to 300 cows in 2021/22. In comparison, the average herd size in SA in 2021/22 is 374, a significant increase from an average of 78 cows in 1984.
  • There are around 67,650 cows in production in SA in 2021/22 with an average yield of ~7,358 litres/cow. This compares with 3,650 litres/cow in 1985 and 6,820 litres/cow in 2018/19.
  • In SA, 14% of farms have 100 or less milking cows, 66% have between 101 and 500 cows, 16% have between 501 and 1000 cows, and 4% have a herd size greater than 1,000.
  • The yield per cow is greatest in the South-East region (7,500 ltrs/cow), followed by the Central region (7,170), with the Mid North having the lowest yield (7,070). Australia’s national average yield in 2021-2022 was 6,380 ltrs/cow.
  • The South-East region also has the largest dairy farms with an average 531 cows/farm, significantly more than in the Central region (286) and more than double the number of cows per farm in the Mid North (181).