From our perspective, farming in the modern era is all about embracing the latest technology and research, while holding on tightly to the fundamentals of traditional farming practices which put animals first. We defy you to find a farmer who doesn’t agree – if you look after your animals, they’ll look after you. Our grandparents knew it, our parents knew it, we know it, and our kids know it. Caring for our land and everything on it is the deep, foundational drive we feel every day as we go about life at Bannister Downs farm. Because of this, we do our best to engage every resource that we can to care for our farm, our family, our environment, Our Girls and our community.
As consumer interest in animal welfare and ethical food production grows, we welcome the opportunity to discuss how we achieve our principal goal of raising and caring for happy, healthy cows every day. We do everything in our power, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to ensure Our Girls are cared for. Our passion is to produce premium quality dairy products and we believe this only comes from the healthiest and happiest of cows. We see our role as ‘roadies’ to Our Girls, the ‘rock stars’. Whatever Our Girls want, Our Girls get - even massages at the dairy!
Ethical dairy practices have been at the heart of our family farming operation for nearly 100 years and we’re proud to talk about how much we care for and love Our Girls, who represent a very large branch of the Daubney family tree. To this end a viewing gallery has been designed above our voluntary robotic dairy at the Creamery, and this is to welcome everyone to come along and see our dairy in action. We believe that our shared commitment to transparency best demonstrates our intentions and care for Our Girls as we continue to strive every day, to be global leaders in ethical dairy.
Animal Welfare at Bannister Downs
Controversy can surround aspects of the dairy industry concerning various animal handling practices, which makes us proud at Bannister Downs to be able to say that we do everything in our power to ensure Our Girls and their calves live in world-class comfort, both onfarm and when in the dairy.
We do not practice intensive indoor farming – Our Girls always have access to abundant pasture, surrounded by State and National forests. We make concerted efforts to ensure our stocking rate (number of animals per hectare) does not put pressure on our pasture growth and therefore the comfort of Our Girls, which means our system is not ‘intensive’. We have a number of separate dairies on our property in addition to our robotic dairy, which enables us to spread our dairy herd out comfortably across the available area.
We ensure our calves remain with their mothers for a minimum of 48 hours so that they receive a good feed of colostrum for a healthy immune system – we want to give them the best possible start to life. The calves then join the ranks of cute calves running around in one of our calf feeding areas, which are all carefully watched over by a dedicated team of ‘calf-carers’. Calves have a natural herd instinct so it’s adorable to see them playing together and we’re all jealous of the Bannister Downs team members who get to spend every day with the calves. In fact, we’re so proud of our calf care at Bannister Downs, that one of our long term goals is to build a special calf shed at the Creamery so that visitors can participate in an interactive experience and have the opportunity to meet some of our calves, as well as seeing Our Girls in action at the dairy.
We ensure the health of our calves with lots of care and attention. One system in place are the De Laval automatic calf-feeding stations which have daily volume limits (and maximum amounts per feed) so that our calves don’t make themselves sick by over-drinking. The stations allow each calf to drink small amounts of warmed milk as often as they like. We do not use re-constituted milk powder for our calves, they always have fresh milk from the morning milking each day.
We ensure the male and female calves born on our property are given the same care. Our male calves usually stay on our property for at least three months at which point, depending on how much pasture we have available, we continue to raise them on property or we on-sell them to another farmer to rear. We are not involved with veal production. We have also designed breeding program to help manage our herd by using ‘sexed semen’, which results in a higher percentage of heifers being born.
We also ensure positive animal welfare outcomes within our dairy by selecting for ‘polled’ (no horns) genetics in our breeding program. It is a requirement by Australian animal handling guidelines that horned cattle need to be de-horned (for animal and handler safety) and we have been seeking alternatives to this practice for many decades and have finally found what we see as a good solution via our breeding program, selecting for and breeding from polled cattle.
We avoid the use of antibiotics on our farm and in our dairy. We have the same principals in our decision making as if Our Girls were our kids – if one of our children came home with an infected cut, we’d take them to the doctor and have the recommended medication administered to prevent infection. This is how we determine when antibiotics are required to treat any individual cows in the herd – on a case by case basis.
We do not use hormonal growth promotants or appetite stimulants to feed our herd, nor any other kind of hormone ‘treatment’. We do not practice tail-docking and we do not prescribe to Halal practices.
We strive to have world’s best practices for animal welfare in place at Bannister Downs. We also make a point of engaging with peak industry bodies, researchers and animal welfare groups to work on constantly improving standards as we value leading the way in ethical dairy.
We get a lot of questions about Our Girls and we do our best to answer them as quickly as we can. Please visit our Frequently Asked Questions, Our Ethical Dairy and Our Girls pages for more information or Contact Us with any queries.
If you are looking for the closest location to purchase your Bannister Downs Fresh milk, creams and flavoured milks, head to our store locator where you will find a list to choose from, according to your most convenient location
Designed over several years by Bosske architects and constructed by Perkins Builders (Bunbury) the Creamery was a large and exciting project for everyone involved. Apart from winning several design and construction awards, it is a wonderful place to see our girls each day, to process, fill and dispatch our products daily and to do our best to look after our team and customers from our administration. Click here to read in more detail