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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 62

The Dairy Industry

The Dairy Industry.

Now a few words about the Dairy Industry. Anyone in the habit of reading the agricultural literature of the present day, and especially that portion of it which refers to dairying, must be struck with the extraordinary efforts that are being made in America and continental countries to secure the lion's share of the enormous trade in dairy produce in England.

The Victorian Government have entered upon this contest with great spirit, and with good effect. They have imported two thorough experts and a travelling dairy. Any district guaranteeing a supply of milk can have the use of the dairy plant, and the services of the expert, who makes and manipulates the butter, and explains the whole process. The Government even go farther, they give a bonus of 1d. for every pound of butter sold in the Loudon market at 7d., 1½d. per lb. for that sold at 9d., 2d. for that at 11d., and 3d. for all sold at 1s. I do not think that we should ask for such fostering and as this, but we have a right to ask that one or more thoroughly efficient experts should be imported from some of the best establishments in the Old Country—men com- page 7 petent to go from factory to factory, from dairy to dairy, giving practical lessons not only in the making of butter and cheese, but on the general management of dairy stock.

One of the results of the efforts being made to advance the dairy industry in Victoria is that her butter has already made a name for itself in the London market, while New Zealand butter has earned for itself a very poor record. And why is this? It is certainly not because our pastures are inferior; on the contrary, they are as a rule vastly superior to those of Australia. We have a cooler climate and better water. There is no reason why New Zealand should not aim at being known as the "Butter Garden" of Australasia, we possess such a remarkable combination of favourable conditions for butter-making; what is wanted is scientific and practical instruction. I have heard it argued that the dairy industry is outside Government intervention in New Zealand, the various Governments of Australia, America, England, and Continental Countries do not think so, they back their appreciation of the importance of this industry by expenditure of considerable sums of money in educating their farmers up to the requisite standard in such matters.

I notice that a butter-making competition has recently been held at Bridport, under the auspices of the Bath and West of England Society, all the competitors being students in the Society's dairy school: twenty-six students competed. As showing what good work this Society does, I may mention that these twenty-six students have passed through an entire course, while upwards of 500 persons paid for admission to the school as spectators to witness the daily operations. This is only one instance of what is being done in England to educate dairy farmers.

Let us for a moment take a glance at that thrifty little country Denmark, and see what they have done. In the year 1860 the British Consul reported that "the butter was execrably bad." The Danish Government took note of the complaint, and founded ten dairy schools. The result has been that the butter export has been raised from the annual value of £120,000 to that of £2,000,000. The sum expended to produce this marvellous result is about £11,000 per annum—a grand investment for the nation. The Danish butter, instead of being "execrable," is now amongst the finest in the world.

There is no reason why, with our magnificent climate and soil, the butter export from New Zealand should not soon be raised to £1,000,000 per annum, which only means 5,000 cows, yielding 200 lb. page 8 of butter each, selling at 1s. per lb. According to the Agricultural Statistics just published, I find that there are 772,358 cattle in the colony, of these, 272,144 are set down as breeding cows. It will thus be seen how capable the industry is of enormous expansion.

It may with some truth be said that dairy factories in New Zealand have not been an unqualified success. If they have not been so, depend upon it, that the partial failure is more the fault of the management than of the system. The best proof of this is, that private factories have invariably proved successful. Mr. J. Grigg's dairy at Longbeach is an unqualified success, the same may be said of Mr. P. O'Boyle's at Leeston, and of Mr. R. Withell's at Brookside; the butter from these private factories realises 2d per lb. more than any other butter in the market; and not only this, but it is a tolerably well-established fact, that 20% more cream is obtained from the milk by the separator than by the ordinary methods of hand skimming. Facts like these speak volumes.

While advocating the establishment of dairy factories, I would point out that the success or failure of such undertakings depends largely upon the principle on which the factory is worked. So far as I can judge from what I have seen and read, the co-operative principle is the best, every shareholder is a supplyer, and all participate in the profits, in proportion to the milk supplied. Where all men are honest, this system may be said to be perfect, but sometimes they are not so—in this lies the trouble. Purchasing the milk at so much per gallon is perhaps as simple a method as can be adopted, but it has its disadvantages. Whichever method is adopted, it is of paramount importance that the manager should be a thoroughly competent man. The manager with a managing director are the only persons that should be invested with the power of interference. There is a very old saying, which is as true as it is old, viz., that "too many cooks spoil the broth."

Every district which can command a minimum of 1,000 cows should have its factory, situated centrally, worked by water-power if possible. Such a factory might be fed from surrounding districts, where creameries might be established. The larger the quantity of milk manipulated, the cheaper per lb. the butter can be made.

I have dwelt at considerable length on the dairy industry, because I believe that it is destined (if only it is fostered) to become one of the most flourishing industries in New Zealand. It is an industry peculiarly adapted to small holdings—of course it may be carried on on page 9 large holdings also,—but as science has not yet given us a milking machine equal to the human hand, the difficulty of milking large numbers of cows properly by paid labour is so great that few care to try the experiment.

There is, however, no reason why owners of herds who do not wish to be troubled with the conduct of the dairy, should not adopt the practice common in some parts of the Old Country, of letting the cows at so much per head to a dairyman, finding grass, hay and roots for winter. By such a system it is to the interest of the dairyman to have all the milk, particularly when he knows that the last pint is nearly equal to the first quart. The following analysis of the first and last pint of milk clearly demonstrates this:—
Water. Solids. Fat.
First pint 88.73 11.87 1.07
Last pint 80.37 19.63 10.38

I have seen as much as from £8 to £12 per cow annual rent paid to the owner. The system works well. If such men are not to be found in the colony, there are many such in the Old Country, who would be glad to come if only sufficient inducement were held out to them.

Having said so much about the dairy, it may not be out of place to make a few remarks concerning the grasses and other plants which are allowed to occupy our pasture lands. It is generally admitted that grass is the most natural food of the dairy cow, and that from it the best butter is made.