Clever move into cheese

Warwick Daily News - South West Queensland Rural Weekly - - Property - Karolin Macgre­gor news@ru­ral­weekly.com

PACK­ING up their kids and cows and mov­ing to Tas­ma­nia was a bold move for Matt and Andy Jack­man, but one that has cer­tainly paid off. The cou­ple moved to Tas­ma­nia from Vic­to­ria in 2009 and took their herd of Aussie Red dairy cows with them.

Mrs Jack­man said be­fore the move they had been bat­tling through drought and it was time for a change.

The fam­ily set­tled on a prop­erty at Ol­d­ina in the state’s north­west.

Their next goal was to in­tro­duce value-adding to their busi­ness, which they did by adding an on-farm cheese pro­cess­ing fa­cil­ity.

That was six years ago and since then pro­duc­tion has in­creased to the point where they em­ploy award-win­ning cheese­maker Dar­ren Pease, who man­ages the fac­tory.

Af­ter start­ing out pro­duc­ing about five tonnes of cheese a year, Red Cow now makes around 20 tonnes an­nu­ally.

Two years ago the Jack­mans achieved an­other one of their goals – to be cer­ti­fied or­ganic pro­duc­ers.

Mrs Jack­man said their ul­ti­mate aim was to farm bi­o­log­i­cally, which they were now well on the way to do­ing.

“If you’re go­ing to choose or­ganic, it has to be a philo­soph­i­cal de­sign, not just about eco­nom­ics,” she said.

“This is the way we want to farm, but it also gives us a point of dif­fer­ence with the prod­ucts we pro­duce here.”

Mak­ing the change to bio­dy­namic farm­ing has also pro­duced ben­e­fits on the farm. Mrs Jack­man said by fo­cus­ing on im­prov­ing soil bi­ol­ogy, this had also cre­ated more species di­ver­sity in pas­tures.

“A big part of it for us has been learn­ing what our farm needs and once you get ev­ery­thing work­ing well, what it is ca­pa­ble of,” she said.

The Jack­mans have also seen an improve­ment in cow health across the herd.

“That’s one of the first ques­tions peo­ple ask – how do we treat our cows,” Mrs Jack­man said.

“An­i­mal wel­fare comes first for us, so if we need to get the vet we do, but most of the time now we just don’t see many prob­lems. If we do, there are also a lot of home­o­pathic reme­dies that we can use and a lot of the in­gre­di­ents are in the pantry.”

Mrs Jack­man said over time they had also se­lected their cows for ro­bust ge­net­ics.

Be­ing cer­ti­fied or­ganic, Mrs Jack­man said they now had a closed-loop sys­tem and pro­duced ev­ery­thing on farm.

This has meant hav­ing to re­duce their cow num­bers.

How­ever, this has been off­set by an in­crease in milk pro­duc­tion per cow.

At present the cheese fac­tory is us­ing about 250,000 litres of the milk pro­duced on farm and the rest is sup­plied to Fon­terra.

Mrs Jack­man said it was en­cour­ag­ing to see more com­pa­nies now look­ing to source or­ganic milk.

The Jack­mans also rear all their calves and have branched out into or­ganic beef pro­duc­tion.

As part of changes to the op­er­a­tion, the cou­ple have also in­tro­duced a busi­ness part­ner.

Mrs Jack­man said when it comes to mar­ket­ing their prod­ucts, brand in­tegrity was cru­cial.

“Our cus­tomers are re­ally in­ter­ested in the ethics be­hind the sys­tems we use,” she said. “We in­vite our new cus­tomers out on to the farm now, so they can see for them­selves what goes on and how it all works.”

While their goal is to re­main a pre­mium pro­ducer, the Jack­mans’ next fo­cus will be ex­pand­ing sales of Red Cow prod­ucts on Aus­tralia’s east­ern seaboard.

Mrs Jack­man said they were also about to launch the first on­line cheese club for the busi­ness.

❝ If you’re go­ing to choose or­ganic, it has to be a philo­soph­i­cal de­sign, not just about eco­nom­ics. — Andy Jack­man

PHOTO: CHRIS KIDD

GO­ING OR­GANIC: Red Cow Or­gan­ics’ Andy Jack­man with an Aussie Red cow and here­ford cross Aussie Red calf at Ol­d­ina. The Jack­mans di­ver­si­fied their busi­ness with an on-farm cheese pro­cess­ing fa­cil­ity and now cre­ate 20 tonnes of cheese a year.

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