Global Leaders in Ethical Dairy

Have you Herd?
FAQs

“ We want to do our best to answer any questions that you may have, as we take accountability seriously and we aim to continually improve our own knowledge and practices.”

Mat and Sue Daubney

Is Bannister Downs Dairy Australian owned?+

Yes! In fact, we are 100% Western Australian owned and operated. Our dairy farm has been in the Daubney family since it was established in 1924 and our partnership with Mrs Gina Rinehart (formed in 2014), means that Bannister Downs Dairy is fortunate to remain under family ownership and family management.

Are the girls allowed to roam in pastures?+

Our Girls are very spoilt and have the run of the place. Apart from when they stroll into the voluntary dairy to be milked, they are free to roam in our beautiful fields. However, if you saw their enthusiasm to get into the dairy to be milked, you would see it is clearly not something that they are unhappy about doing.

Are your cows subjected to tail docking, dehorning or the removal of extra teats?+

We do not undertake any tail docking or removal of any teats (we can’t even imagine why anyone would do these practices). Unfortunately, we do have to de-horn as it is part of the Australian requirements for cattle handling and at the end of the day, it’s safer for them and us too.  For a long term solution we are choosing to breed with ‘polled’ animals into our herd, which will mean that eventually we no longer have to dehorn.

Are your cows grass fed?+

Yes they are! We do feed them some extra hay when the amount of grass is a little low over the peak summer months and they do enjoy a small amount of grain at the dairy, which helps them settle and relax whilst milking.

Do you use pesticides or fertilisers on your pasture?+

We use lime, chicken manure and a small amount of super phosphate to maintain our beautiful pastures and balance the soil for best pasture production.

Why can dairy cows look so skinny?+
Dairy cattle have a body type with a prominent bone structure which means you can often clearly see their hip bones and a few ribs. This is opposed to beef cattle which have a body type predisposed to more muscle and meat coverage over their bones. 
Dairy cows are just different from beef cows, not skinny. We look after Our Girls very carefully to ensure they are never hungry which means Our Girls are not underfed.
 
What happens to your calves when they are born?+
Our calves all remain with their mothers for a minimum of 48 hours so they receive a good feed of colostrum, before their mums head off to be part of the dairy herd. We then hand raise all of our calves.
We have automatic calf feeding stations with daily volume limits so they don’t make themselves sick by over-drinking. However, our calves can come and drink small amounts as frequently as they like and their milk is warmed up for them too. We only use fresh cow’s milk from the daily morning milking to feed our babies instead of re-constituted milk powder.
It's an adorable sight seeing the calves running and playing together. They have a natural herd instinct so they are very happy to be surrounded by so many of their brothers and sisters and they love it when their human carers come to check on them, especially when there’s food in tow!
 
What happens to male calves born on your dairy?+
Our girl and boy calves are all given the same care. We generally rear our bobby (male) calves until a minimum of 3 months of age, at which time we either hold onto them (if we have pasture available), or, we on-sell them to another farmer rearing steers if space is a little short.
We are always mindful of having plenty of pasture available for our dairy herd which always gets priority.
 
Are your calves used for veal?+

We have nothing to do with veal production.

Do you use antibiotics or growth hormones?+

We do not use any growth hormones and we only use antibiotics when absolutely necessary to treat an injured or sick animal, but it is not part of our regular practice.

What is the breeding cycle and milking life of your Jersey cows? +
Similar to other cows, a Jersey cow will be first mated when she is around 16 – 18 months old. This will be followed by a 9 month gestation period after which she has her first calf.
A cow’s milking life begins once she has calved.
At approximately 65 days she will be mated again. Cows will typically milk for around 9 – 10 months of the year, with 2-3 months being a restful dry period.
Most cows will continue this life cycle for many years.
At Bannister Downs our oldest Jersey cow, Mrs Grey, is 18 years old and we have just retired her on the farm. 
 
What are those coloured ear markers we always see in pictures of your cows?+
We keep every tiny bit of information about Our Girls – who their parents were, what their birthday is, what their habits are and so on. Our Girls are just like family and the ear tags help us identify each of the individuals in the herd. That way we can recognise them in easily in the paddock and store all their information for our records.
Each of Our Girls wear 2 ear tags, one is the NLIS tag (National Livestock Identification System) which is a requirement for all cattle in Australia to ensure lifetime traceability which tracks ownership and prevents the spread of biosecurity risks, and the other is the identity tag which we give each calf. The second tag also acts as a back up to the NLIS tag in case it falls out which does happen on occasion!
If you come to visit us at The Creamery, you’ll see the ear tags do something really exciting – they basically run our robotic dairy!
 
How does the robotic dairy work?+
Our state of the art Creamery is home to the first Automatic Milking Rotary (AMR) dairy in Western Australia, built and designed by De Laval. It’s a pasture-based, voluntary milking system and it works thanks to the individualised ear tags Our Girls wear. 
When Our Girls feel like being milked, they stroll up the laneway from their paddock to one of the smart gates in the dairy yard where their ear tag is scanned. The smart gate determines whether or not individuals have already been milked that morning and lets them through to the rotary dairy accordingly. While Our Girls are being milked, the robot not only fits the cups to the udders of Our Girls, it measures how much milk each individual cow is producing and records the data which helps us to know how she is going. It means we have an early warning system if any individual cow needs attention for any reasons. When milking is completed, Our Girls enjoy a feed blend in the feeding station and then head off to a new paddock. They are free to come back to the dairy but the smart gate system won’t give them permission to be milked again until a set amount of time has passed. This can be managed for cows according to their stage of lactation, their condition or even individually for various reasons.
Meanwhile, their fresh milk is continuously piped just 10 metres away to our processing facility within The Creamery where our milk is pasteurised, packaged and prepared for delivery.
 
Has your new robotic dairy taken jobs from humans? +

No! None of our team members have been ‘replaced by robots’ since our new AMR dairy system was first put in operation. It does mean we can get to work at 6am instead of 4am and our team is now free to do the other tasks on farm without the pressures of fitting things in around the milking schedule of Our Girls. Our focus is more on the nutrition and health of Our Girls, rather than the repetitive task of actually putting on the milk cups twice a day, every day. 

Is your milk GM free?+

Yes our milk is GM free – we purchase our grain directly from co-farmers in Borden and they do not use GM grain/seed.

Why don’t most milk processors in Australia use the low temperature pasteurisation method you use?+

Our traditional low temperature pasteurisation method takes more time than the more commonly used pasteurisation methods which heat the milk to a higher temperature for a shorter period of time (High Temperature, Short Time). For us, product quality is paramount and so we are willing to sacrifice these productivity efficiencies in order to produce the best quality milk that we can.

Does low temperature pasteurisation kill friendly bacteria in milk?+
The Food Standards Code (FSANZ) orders that all drinking milk be pasteurised. There are various options for pasteurisation. The lowest temperatures take the longest time, while high temperature pasteurisation (ie. UHT milk) is heated to 130°C for only 1 second, and at these temperatures every species of bacteria present is killed, therefore the milk is sterile and it can be kept on the shelf.  
There is a strict time/temperature relationship to achieve effective pasteurisation and make sure that any harmful bacteria are not present in the fresh milk that you buy.
 
Just how healthy is milk actually?+

Very healthy! All natural, farm fresh milk like ours contains lots of naturally occurring essential nutrients which humans need for a healthy lifestyle. We all know there’s calcium in milk, but did you know milk also contains protein, iodine, potassium, magnesium, phosphorous, carbohydrate, vitamins A and B12, riboflavin and zinc? All very important nutrients for a healthy diet. 

What temperature is used during production of your double cream?+

Our double cream is heated to 66.6°C as the particle size is a little larger than milk. This means it needs a slightly higher heat treatment to make sure that all potentially dangerous bacteria are destroyed and it is safe for human consumption.

Are your creams homogenised? +

No.

Do you add gelatine to your cream?+
No! We’re proud to say we don’t add anything to our cream at all – it is simply separated from our fresh milk, directly from our cows.
Other companies might choose to add gelatine, stabilisers and preservatives as these additives can make cream perfectly consistent and provide a longer shelf life, but we prefer to avoid adding anything at all unless absolutely essential. 
 
Do you add thickener to your cream?+

No, we do not add anything at all to our creams. Everything is made fresh, straight from Our Girls.

What is the fat content of your cream?+

We have two creams and the fat content does vary slightly with the seasons. Generally, our Fresh Cream (whipping/pouring) is close to 35% and our Double Cream (thickened) is between 56-59%.

Is your milk permeate free?+
We don’t add anything to our milk. We simply take the milk fresh from Our Girls and heat treat it so any potentially toxic bacteria is killed. It is then homogenised it so all of the cream particles are the same size. Then we pack it fresh and send it the same day to be delivered to our customers.
There is nothing at all added to our milk, and never has been (apart from ingredients in our flavoured milk). Our milk is just milk!
 
What’s the difference between homogenised and non-homogenised milk?+
We homogenise our milk in order to distribute the cream content of the milk evenly throughout the pouch so every single drop of Bannister Downs milk you taste has a rich creaminess to it. 
When we don’t perform the homogenisation process for our Non-Homogenised full cream milk, some of the cream separates from the milk and rises to the top of the bottle, leaving a delicious layer of creamy goodness – just like folks used to have their milk back in the day. The choice is yours, but we reckon it’s worth trying!
 
How does traditional dairy compare to alternative ‘milk’?+
The short answer is that traditional dairy, like ours, is simply fresh milk from our cows, with nothing added. All the good nutrients we hear so much about like calcium and other essential nutrients occur naturally in cows’ milk, but with other ‘milks’, it is often necessary for those nutrients to be added to the product in order for them to attempt to match the nutritional value of cows’ milk, along with a considerable volume of water. 
There is lots of information out there, so we recommend heading to the Dairy Australia website for accredited advice on the nutritional value of cow milk.
 
 
Is the plastic in your milk packaging BPA free?+
Yes, our milk packaging is bisphenol A (BPA) free.  
Ecolean is our provider and they are committed to creating packaging that uses minimal amount of raw materials.
 
Where do you source your chocolate from?+

We use pure cacao to make our Chocolatte and we source this premium ingredient from Holland as a ground powder.

Do you produce milk powder?+

We currently only produce premium quality fresh milk straight from Our Girls.

Can I buy your milk in bulk?+

Our milk is only available in the 1 litre pouch. Unfortunately, there are no larger packaging options and its unlikely there will be in the future. In terms of purchasing large volumes of our milk, we suggest asking your local supplier if you can arrange purchasing cartons (12 litres) from them.

Can I buy Non-Homogenised milk in a larger pouch?+

Unfortunately, we are not able to produce the non-homogenised milk in our pouches as the cream layer on the top would form a film at the top of the pouch and would not be very appealing - it really does need a rigid bottle neck for that delicious creamy top (that we all love so much!) to form.

Do you have an on-site retail outlet?+
Yes! We are welcoming visitors to The Creamery at Bannister Downs every Thursday and Friday. 
Not only can you enjoy samples of our produce at our onsite café, The Kitchen Table, you can also watch Our Girls in action from our viewing platform located above our voluntary robotic dairy. We look forward to having you visit us. 
 
Where can I buy Bannister Downs Dairy products outside of WA?+
We’re working on developing our relationships with retailers in the Eastern States of Australia, as well as in Asian markets.
Currently (due to Covid19 restrictions) our milk is only sold in WA, however in the future we look forward to increasing our availability to other states in Australia, as well as Asian markets.
While we continue to work on extending our presence to more locations, customer demand really helps us. If you’d like to see Bannister Downs Dairy products on shelves in your area, make sure you tell your local store manager about how much you love our milk! 
 
How do I pour milk from your pouches?+

The pouch is certainly quite different to normal beverage packaging and can take a bit of time to get used to.  One way that we find best to handle it is rather than ‘pour’ it as such – just tilt it to the container (cup or bowl) that you want to pour milk into, and then apply pressure by squeezing the lower part of the pouch with your other hand. Then the milk will only come to the spout as slowly or as quickly as you want, and the minute that you release the pressure, the flow will stop – so no gushes!

Why does Bannister Downs use that squishy packaging?+
We are really proud of our packaging – it’s eco-friendly, low waste and low impact. It’s also really easy to store, really easy to dispose of and it locks in all that real milky-flavour so you don’t miss out on the delicious farm freshness of our milk. 
You can read more about our innovative packaging here or you can visit the website of our packaging partner Ecolean.
 
Can I reseal pouch packaging?+
Most of the time, the pouch should re-seal itself. The surface tension pulling the sides together as the product empties from the pouch, creates a vacuum causing the sides of the pouch to pull together and ‘seal’ it shut.
As the packaging is a very new design, Ecolean have been continually making modifications and improving its behaviour.  The pouch does not always self-seal as intended and there is some variation between batches of packaging.
 
Do you have a Halal certification?+

We do not have Halal certification nor do we have anything to do with Halal.

Should I be concerned about the carbon footprint of dairy?+
Dairying contributes about 1.6% of Australia’s total greenhouse gas emissions, and plans to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 30% and reducing water use by 20%. This activity aligns with the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
 
The Australian dairy industry is a world leader in innovation for all aspects of dairy farming, including managing waste and carbon emissions. It’s something the industry as a whole is working to tackle and has made several public commitments you can read about here
At Bannister Downs, we love our amazing clean, green environment (our shire is 80% uncleared land – beautiful State and National forests!). Our farm is surrounded by majestic karri forest and we take responsibility to do our best to preserve this special area we are fortunate to live within. We also know, Our Girls do their best work when they are healthiest and happiest, and that means nurturing our environment through careful management of one of our most precious resources – our farmland. 
Concern for our own carbon footprint lead us to our packaging partnership with Ecolean. Their business priority is sustainability and through our shared time working together, we have been able to learn a lot in this regard. We are proud that sustainability has been considered during each stage of planning and construction of our state of the art Creamery, which was designed with ‘minimal impact’ at front of mind.
 
Does your partnership with Gina Rinehart mean you’ve ‘sold out’ to corporate farming?+
Of course not! 
Our partnership with Mrs Rinehart has created a significant investment across all aspects of our business, always with animal welfare, team wellbeing and product quality as our shared priorities. Thanks to the support we’ve received from Mrs Rinehart and Hancock Prospecting, we’ve built our world leading Creamery facility and we’ve been involved with the purchasing and rehabilitation of land in our local area which had been previously been Blue Gum plantations areas, just to name a couple of examples. Our partnership has also meant we’ve been connected to a whole community of people who run very different farming operations to ours, like beef stations in the far north of WA. There is so much that we can learn from and share with our wider connections within the Hancock Agriculture business since our partnership began.  We are also very fortunate to have the benefit of Mrs Rinehart’s wisdom and insight regarding safe practices for our team, new technology and learnings about cattle care that have been implemented on her other properties, to reduce stress on animals.
We are very much a local family farming business with a strong focus on community, and with an amazing Creamery facility to enable us to grow as we look forward to the future. 
 
Is the image you promote honest and can it be trusted?+
We are farmers because we love animals and we love the land we are fortunate enough to be able to take care of.  We always do our best to make sure Our Girls are safe and healthy and insist that anyone on our team treats them with love and respect. 
We invite the public to see Our Girls be milked from the viewing platform at The Creamery every Thursday and Friday because we’re committed to providing you with the transparency you deserve so that you can trust the makers of the fresh produce you buy for your family.
 
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Fun Fact

Like all new businesses, we had our doubts in the early days, but we also had support from our team, the industry and our community - we chose to be courageous.

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