The Australian dairy industry operates on year-round, pasture-based grazing, as opposed to intensive feedlot systems.
Production is spread across 5,700 dairy farms in eight unique dairying regions throughout Victoria, South Australia, New South Wales, Queensland, Tasmania, and Western Australia.
Around 70% of Australia’s dairy cattle are Holstein, while other breeds include Jersey, Brown Swiss, Ayrshire, the Australian Red and the Illawarra.
The Jersey breed is popular for the high butterfat content of its milk and lower maintenance costs due to its low bodyweight of 400 to 500kg.
Together, this creates the ability to carry a larger number of effective milking cows and greater economy of production for high-quality milk. While not producing the volume of milk of the Holstein Freisians, Jerseys are more economical to run and may have superior longevity.
Holstein Friesian is the major breed of dairy cattle in Australia and is the world’s highest production dairy animal.
Holsteins are large cattle with colour patterns of red and white or black and white. These cows can reach a height of 150cm tall and weigh over 600kg.
Holstein bulls are over 180cm tall and weigh over 1000kgs (nearly the size of a small car). Holstein heifers can be bred at around 13 months, while the average productive life of a Holstein is four years. Holstein Friesian cows produce large quantities of milk which may be up to 10,000 litres a year.
The Brown Swiss breed is recognised for its strong feet and legs, quiet temperament and longevity.
Brown Swiss are some of the most popular dairy cattle in the world due to their heat tolerance, foraging ability, and residual value. The breed’s milk provides a close fat to protein ratio, making it ideal for cheese production, while its low somatic cell count contributes to an extended life span.