After DFMC’s convention, 14 DFMC suppliers headed to Launceston where the post-convention tour commenced with some beautiful scenery on the way to Lion’s state-of-the-art The Heritage speciality cheese manufacturing hub in Burnie.

DFMC suppliers sporting the brand new hats.

Led by Lion’s Tasmanian Farm Services Officer, Alistair Shepard, the group was given a detailed tour of the plant – which is the largest speciality cheese production facility in the Southern Hemisphere – and was able to meet master cheese maker Ueli Berger. Ueli is responsible for the 11,000 tonnes of brie and camembert produced each year.

The 150-million-dollar redevelopment of the Burnie plant has seen a large focus on robotic production, which Ueli credits to making a more consistent and higher quality product. However, Ueli emphasised that the human workforce is still vitally important in ensuring quality.

The tour was also lucky enough to visit Garry and Bev Carpenters’ robotic milking operation.

Built in an old hops processing shed, the eight-box robotic dairy milks a herd of 500 cows and was an interesting example of how new technology can be incorporated with existing infrastructure.

Also interesting was the ownership structure of the operation, with the Carpenters leasing the property from a Singaporean businessman but being responsible for implementing the infrastructure improvements.

The next morning saw the DFMC tour head to Quamby Brook near Deloraine, where the Dornauf family operate a 350-cow farm that features the world’s first fully automatic milking rotary dairy (AMR).

While participants watched on from the viewing room overlooking the dairy, owner Nick Dornauf provided insight into the development and ongoing operation of the system.

The world’s first commercial Automatic Milking Rotary (AMR) dairy.

One of the more fascinating aspects of the facility was that, when maintenance of the robots is required, the dairy can be operated manually to avoid excessive disruption to cow milking patterns.

Lunch was at another Dornauf-owned operation – The Christmas Hills Raspberry Farm – although Nick’s confession that he prefers to eat in his tractor cabs certainly raised some eyebrows!

Any doubts about the establishment were quickly erased as the tour group were treated to one of the best meals experienced for the week, with the raspberry sundaes proving a particular favourite.

The Dornaufs operate five dairies in the area, milking around 2200 cows. In May this year the Dornaufs commissioned a new one-person 60-unit rotary on their 600-cow Moltema property, at an investment cost of $1.7 million.

Featuring a robotic arm teat sprayer, the state-of-the-art installation greatly impressed the tour group, with nothing overlooked in its design and construction.

Nick explained that although the family was happy with their automated rotary, the decision not to build another was based on management capacity due to geographic considerations, with the Moltema property not well suited to automation.