Kay Hollyoak at Maleny Dairies
The rolling green hills of Maleny use to be dotted with cows and filled with dairy farms. In 2000 the milk industry was deregulated and many families’ incomes were cut in half. Families were giving up on their livelihood in a search for other options but not the Hopper family, they decided to fight back. This week I spoke to Kay Hollyoak of Maleny Dairies, we spoke about the history of the farm, farming practices and the future of the milk industry.
In 1948 Kay’s grandfather Gordon Hopper bought the property and started the dairy farm. The farm hugs the outskirts of Maleny now, one of the few properties that has not been bought and turned into housing developments like many others in the area. The farm was handed down to Harold Hopper – Gordon’s son and Kay’s father.
During 1999 and early 2000 Harold was deciding if he should sell the farm, due to the dairy industry implementing the deregulation of milk prices. To read more about deregulation visit Dairy Australia. Three of the four siblings who were all in their late twenties joined forces to fight back and produce their own label of milk. In 2002 Maleny Dairies was born and the label produced its first packaged milk for the market. Kay oversees the operations, while her brothers look after the dairy and factory. Ross Hopper runs the factory, where the milk goes to get processed and packaged before dispatch. Keith Hopper is in charge of the dairy, the diary is where the Guernseys get milked and the pasture they feed on.
The Guernsey cows waiting in line at the dairy.
Over the past eleven years Kay assures me it has not all been smooth sailing for the siblings. They all have had different jobs over the years to sustain Maleny Dairies to keep it afloat. The dairy also become a distributer for water, hiring shipping containers out to the public and trucking services. The first few years was about learning for them all, each ran their own department, learning the ins and outs of the dairy industry. These days the dairy is flourishing with the support of the local region and the surrounding area. The Guernsey dairy cow on rolling green hills has almost become a symbol of Maleny.
The dairy runs 120 head of Guernsey cows on the property, they are an old breed originally from the British Channel. “Guernesey cows produce premium quality milk that is creamy” Kay explained as their milk is high in protein and butterfat. The cows are a pale golden brown with white patches and produce on average 15 litres of milk a day. The quality of the milk is due to its genetics, unlike other milking cows which have different genetic make-up. The family have a farm in Jandowae to grow the grain for the animals – sorghum, barley and wheat along with hay. The grain mix is given to them when they cows go to the dairy to be milked.
Keith Hopper putting on the milking-machine
Weather plays an important part of life for all farmers from drought to excessive rain. During the dry months the pastures are affected and the cattle are fed hay to substitute their diet. Each year the dairy applies chook manure to the pastures to keep them rich in nutrients. Their philosophy is to look after the animals and keep the process as natural as possible. They allow veterinarians to treat any of the cows that may be ill or in a serious condition. Maleny Dairies also works with five other dairies all in a half an hour radius of the factory which also follows the same guidelines of how they want the animals treated.
The cow to bottle principal is shared with passion at Maleny Dairies. The cows provide the milk which gets produced at the dairy each morning and afternoon. The milk gets transported by a tanker to the factory where it gets processed according to legislation. The factory has a laboratory for testing the raw milk when it comes in and then again after it has been pasteurised. They take pride in not adding or taking out anything to make their milk. Kay explained to me about permeate, the by-product of milk when making cheese, and how many main-stream companies use this to bulk out their milk and keep it consistent. The milk produced through the factory has the smallest minute changes each day due to the weather and the cows themselves, however Maleny Dairies does not use anything to standardize their products – Keeping it as natural as possible.
Pasteurised: When the milk is exposed to a high temperature for a period of time to destroy particular microorganisms that may spoil the milk. Maleny Dairies heats the milk for 15sec to 72’c, the minimum requirement by law.
Homogenised: Is the process of making a substance uniform. The milk industry homogenise milk by pushing it through a small tube at a high pressure to break up the fat modules so they are evenly dispersed through the milk.
Milk Permeate: Is the by-product of ultra-filtration of milk to extract the protein and fat to produce cheese. Permeate has a watery consistency and consists of lactose, water, vitamins and minerals. Many factories use this to standardise their milk – not Maleny Dairies though.
Maleny dairies kiosk is open to the public to buy their milk, yogurt and custard. All the products have won multiple gold and silver awards at the Brisbane and Sydney shows over the past years. They sell a range of milk; Gold Top which is pasteurised only, Blue Top which is pasteurised and homogenised, Red Top which is low in fat and the yellow Top which is skim milk with the cream completely removed. They have three flavours of flavoured milk; chocolate, strawberry and coffee. The strawberry yogurt has won the champion dessert twice at the Brisbane Show yet they also off an apricot flavour or the natural yogurt. They also sell Guerensey cream, custard and goats milk.
Awards for their products.
You can visit Maleny Dairies Monday to Saturday and participate in a farm & factory tour or have a coffee in the kiosk. The tours start at either 10.30 or 2.30pm and costs $9 for entry. The tour covers the whole operation from the cows, milking, factory operation and the history of the farm. The kiosk has a play area for children while the mothers can sit and enjoy a coffee. You can also book the venue for a party or bbq.
In our household we only buy Maleny Gold milk, my husband loves the cream sitting on top when it is opened, no other milk comes close to being that creamy. What milk do you drink and do you know how it is made?