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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 62

The Dairy Industry

The Dairy Industry.

New Zealand may claim to be the Denmark of the South, without ever having to enter into competition with the Denmark of the North, for the reason that our seasons are opposite. The dairy industry is steadily growing into a very important one. In the North Island, along the west coast, factories are springing up in all directions. This will be the great dairying district of the colony, the humidity of its climate rendering it better adapted to this industry than any other. The luxuriance of the pastures has to be seen to be appreciated. Large tracts of bush-lands are being thrown open for small settlements, and are eagerly taken up for the most part by thrifty hard-working men. Land is procurable either by purchase, deferred payment, or perpetual lease, on the easiest terms. Homes are being built up in all directions, with dairying for the chief industry. The very nature of the industry renders it peculiarly suited to small selectors.

It is hardly necessary to point out that all butter and cheese intended for export will have to be factory made, for the reason that no other will command the highest price, and because so much more can be made of the milk by the use of the separator. One illustration will serve for our purpose. Experience has demonstrated to a certainty that 27½ lb. (or 2½ galls.) of fairly good milk will produce 1 lb. of butter which averages 2d. per pound more than ordinary farmers' butter; whereas it takes 33 lb. (or 3 galls.) of milk treated in the old-fashioned manner of setting in pans to produce the same quantity of butter—which means exactly 50 per cent, more returns from milk treated on the factory system.

The factory system is now fairly well established. With judicious supervision, and the institution of regulations providing for the grading and proper handling of butter for export, the page 19 industry is sure to go on flourishing, and will secure to thousands lucrative employment.

In the Middle Island it has not taken root to the same extent as in the North. It is true that cheese-factories are becoming numerous in Otago and Southland, with a few butter-factories. Like all other new industries, losses have been made; happily, however, the initial stage has now been passed, and, with good prices for the output last season, averaging 4d. to 5d. per pound for cheese at the factory, matters are now in a satisfactory condition. In Canterbury, the dairy-factory system has only been partially adopted. This apparent apathy may be accounted for by the fact that the Canterbury farmers have, from the first, devoted themselves to wheat-growing; subsequently sheep-raising has been added to their usual occupations with considerable profit. A large quantity of butter has been made on farms in former years, but the price obtainable was as low as from 8d. to 4d. per pound, so that to a very large extent the business was abandoned. It is now found that butter and cheese give a more certain and remunerative return; hence the desire for factories is becoming more general. A movement is now on foot having for its object a central factory for Canterbury, to be fed by creameries in the surrounding districts. The carrying out of this comprehensive scheme would render Canterbury famous as a butter-producing district. The success which has attended the erection of certain factories on the co-operative principle, a system which experience has amply demonstrated is the only sure foundation to build upon—viz., that the milk-suppliers shall largely be the shareholders—is bearing good fruit, and a large number of factories are being put up on these conditions.

The Chief Dairy Instructor reports:—

"There are now seventy-eight cheese and butter factories scattered throughout the colony, the buildings and plant having an aggregate value of nearly £80,000. At the present time (June, 1892) ten new factories are in course of erection, and negotiations are going on in several districts for the establishment of others. Every reasonable assistance is given by the Government to encourage the development of the industry through the employment of itinerant instructors, and by the publication and distribution of pamphlets treating on dairy husbandry.

"These pamphlets are mailed free to all dairy-factory proprietors for circulation among their milk-suppliers, and to any other parties associated with dairying, on application. page 20 Parties contemplating the establishment of factories will be supplied free of charge with sketch-plans of buildings suitable to their requirements, and other needful information.

"To meet the many inquiries, plans have been prepared for buildings of various sizes, and detailed information is furnished in pamphlet form, having reference to the business basis, and containing schedule of plant required, so as to insure economy in the application of labour and uniformity in the quality of the productions.

"The formation of dairy associations for the purpose of guarding the interests of the trade is already showing what good .service such institutions are capable of rendering.

"It is worthy of note that several of our dairy factories have now earned a desirable distinction in the London market for the quality of their products—both butter and cheese. Brands of butter which were last year quoted at from £ 1 10s. to £2 under the Danish brands have, during the past season, been quoted at about the highest figures realised on the London market.

"Cheese from our best factories has successfully competed with the best Canadian brands, which seem to dominate the market. But, unfortunately, this distinction is only earned by a few of our best factories.

"Towards showing the benefits derived from the factory system as compared with individual dairying, it is satisfactory to note that, out of an even line of three shipments of butter sent Home, the factory brands realised from £5 15s. to £6 3s., while that from private dairies brought from £4 15s. to £5 15s. The higher quotations must be considered satisfactory.

"It is also pleasing to note the rapid development which the dairy industry has undergone during the last ten years. In 1880 the value of our exports of dairy products was £1,033, while for 1891 the value rose to £236,933, and I am sanguine that the present year's export will show, from the same amount of produce, a considerable increase in pecuniary value. I hope by future efforts to see a still brisker trade established, so that the settlers may derive a benefit, and find some solace for past losses.

"It is generally conceded that no country possesses greater natural advances for dairy pursuits than New Zealand. This, at any rate, is true of Taranaki. Any one acquainted with the large areas of splendid pasture-land in Taranaki must have had the conviction forced upon him that this locality is pre-eminently fitted to become a great centre for manufacturing dairy products. In soil, climate, seasons, and settlement, Taranaki has every page 21 natural advantage. Winter pasturage is generally abundant, and so the farmer is to a great extent relieved of the labour and expense of storing up much winter feed. Little or no housing is required for the cattle throughout the winter, and so the farmer can carry on his business under the most favourable circumstances, as very little of the profits of the season are consumed in maintaining the cows from one season to another."

The imports from all sources into the United Kingdom of dairy produce for the year 1891, were as follows:—
Butter £11,591,181
Cheese 4,815,369
Margarine 3,558,203

During the same year the value of food products imported into the United Kingdom amounted to over £130,000,000. These figures show that the English market is, so far as New-Zealand is concerned, practically inexhaustible.

Referring to the quality of New Zealand produce Messrs. John McNairn & Co., of Glasgow, in a memorandum under date of 18th March, and in their circular of 1st April, 1892, state, "This year, throughout Scotland, Australian and New-Zealand butter has pleased extraordinarily well, and buyers are feeling that when the season is over it will be a felt want. As already pointed out, the butter preferred is the very highest class, and packed in patent boxes. We would also refer again to the importance of having the butter-boxes lined with greaseproof paper, so as to avoid its being touched by the wood, which is a most important part in the packing. The quality of the cheese this year has been perfection. We have never seen finer New Zealand cheeses; and if the same quality is kept up, we shall always be able to get a price for them second to none."

The following is the amount of cheese and butter produced in the colony for the years 1881, 1886, and 1891. The figures for 1892 are not yet to hand, but they will show a substantial increase over 1891:—
Butter. Cheese.
lbs. lbs.
Census year 1881 3,178,694 8,453,815
Census year 1886 4,594,795 12,170,964
Census year 1891 6,975,608 16,310,012

New Zealand butter, although largely sold in the United Kingdom, is, unfortunately, seldom retailed to the public as such. The Colonial producer is in no way responsible for this, and efforts have been and are constantly being made to have the dairy produce sold under its proper name. The New Zealand page 22 farmer, and his broker in London, sell butter and cheese to the retailer as New Zealand produce, but retailers seem averse to the trouble attendant on introducing new brands to their customers' notice, and hence the practice of selling New Zealand butter under well-known English and foreign names. The New Zealand farmer is sufficiently satisfied with the quality of his produce to be anxious that it should be sold on its merits.