River Cottage Australia

Dairy Farming in Tilba

Find out more about dairy farming in the Tilba region with Nic Dibden. 

The Dibden Dairy Farm 

Nic Dibden together with his wife Erica run the ABC Cheese Factory as well as their very own dairy farm in Central Tilba. Nic is very hands on with his dairy herd, which consists of about 180 Jersey Cows.  He milks 2,500 litres per day, 365 days per year. The milk from the Dibden’s farm is bottled at the cheese factory and then sold in the local area all the way from Wollongong to Canberra. And their enterprise is the real paddock-to-plate deal, with the milk produced a mere 500 metres away from the factory itself. Not only this, but freshness is also a sealed deal as it only takes 2-3 hours for the milk to reach its final destination. But it’s not just milk that this dairy power couple produces. The Jersey milk is also used at the cheese factory to make all sorts of creams, yogurts and cheeses. The cheeses include everything from cheddar, colby and feta, right down to ricotta and cream.

The Dibden’s bought their dairy farm in Central Tilba back in 2000 and then in 2013 took over the ABC Cheese Factory. This ultimately meant that this was the first time since the 1970’s that milk and cheese were being bottled and handcrafted in sunny Tilba again. 

Day in the life of Dairy Farmer Nic DIbden 

1. Wakes up at 5:30/ 6:00 to deliver fresh milk to the ABC Cheese Factory (Mon, Wed, Fri)

2. Comes back to the farm to mix feed for the cows and to then get stuck into some tractor paddock work. This work involves maintaining as well as the basic upkeep of the farm such as that never ending weeding.

3. Two times a week Nic will also swing by the Canberra Epic Markets as well as the Moruya Markets to sell their fresh produce.

Dairy Herds 

Dairy cows are as their name suggests, specifically bred to produce large amounts of milk and milk products. There are four different types of cattle that make up a dairy herd, these include:

1. Cows (Females who give birth)
2. Bulls (Fathers of dairy calves.)
3. Heifers (Young female cattle, who are in between a calf and an adult)
4. Calves (Baby cattle)

Cows, the females who give birth, make up the majority of a dairy herd. Typically, heifers turn into milking cows and the male calves are sold. The main source of food for dairy cows is pasture, which is primarily a mixture of grass and legumes such as clover growing in the farm paddocks. The legumes are important as they act as a source of protein. However, when cows are producing milk, they can’t always get the amount of energy they need from grazing on pastures alone. This is why farmers normally supplement their food with some high-energy grain.

Jersey Cows 

Jersey Cows are a type of dairy cow that are notorious for their high quality milk as well as their ease in producing calves. This breed of dairy cow originally came from the island of Jersey and was bought all the way out to Australia in 1829.

These cows are normally a light brown or fawn colour, with black tips on their muzzles, ears, feet and tail. The black nose bordered by a whitish muzzle is regarded as the mark of a true Jersey! Although being the smallest of dairy cows (weighing up to 500kg), their milk is ideal for making butter because it’s so creamy.

It is a well-known fact that the Jersey cow produces the highest fat and highest protein content of all milks.

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