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Dornauf Dairies

Dornauf Dairies case study

A case study that shows how milk producers are using modern technology to boost output.

On the Dornauf family farm in Tasmania, it’s the cows who decide when they get milked. Some are in no hurry, but that’s not a problem because the property near Launceston is home to Australia’s first robotic dairy.

It’s one of four farms owned by Dornauf Dairies, a family enterprise run by three generations. Established in 1964 by Ian and Jenny Dornauf, the company owns 1800 cows, which between them produce 13 million litres of milk a year.

While their son Chris and his wife Lyn help look after the traditional side of the business, it was grandson Nick’s job with his partner Rebekah to bring the robotic dairy to life.

Robotic dairy

Unlike other dairy farms, where the cows are brought in and milked to a schedule, the robotic dairy allows the animals to come in when they’re ready. Electronic tags keep track of which cows have been milked and how much they have produced. Smart gates then direct them out and any that require veterinary care are guided into the hospital pen.

The robotic dairy has proved a big success, but Nick shares the credit with the rest of the family.

“It would have failed if we didn’t have the support of the family.

"We were so focused on it that they had to manage the rest of the business on their own,” he says.

Things you should know: This article is intended to provide general information of an educational nature only. It does not have regard to the financial situation or needs of any reader and must not be relied upon as financial product advice. Agri Insights canvasses 1,600 Australian farmers about their intentions for their farm enterprise over the coming 12 months. In our seventh survey, we also asked farmers about which areas of their operations presented opportunity for future innovation, and what they would do to enable innovation in their farm businesses. We spoke to a representative sample of rural producers across Australia. Fieldwork was executed by Fairfax Agricultural Research and Marketing using its database of more than 100,000 rural producers, and the research was managed by Kynetec. Calls were conducted in January and February 2017. Commonwealth Bank of Australia ABN 48 123 123 124 AFSL and Australian credit licence 234945.