When the pioneers first selected land in the Gunbower district their holdings were mainly in 50 acre blocks. The difficulties of clearing this land were tremendous and it was usually done by cutting the undergrowth with a mattock and shovel.
The trees were ring barked, left to die then burnt. Once the holding was cleared the farmer would sow it down in Lucerne, which was the most popular of pastures in the early days. As the clearing progressed so did his dairy herd. Milking had to be done by hand and this fact, combined with a lack of water for irrigation, usually limited dairy herds to around 20 cows.
Technology and innovative ideas have transformed Industries and dairy farming is no exception, Dairying has developed from a family concern run by manual labour to a largely automated and collective enterprise. Electricity has made an enormous change in an industry previously limited by the perish ability of its products. With the introduction of refrigeration to dairy farms, large milk factories with bulk tankers have given great stimulus to the dairy industry by reducing manual work and allowing for a better more hygienically produced product. With the introduction of machinery ground is more easily worked to grow pasture and the availability of water allows more reliable source of feed for cows.
In 1959 the first “Herringbone milking shed” in the district was first built by the McInnes brothers of Fox Island. Rotary Dairies are common place nowadays as while a cow is walking on to be milked another one is walking off as it finishes, without the platform stopping. Today some farms have fully automated milking plants.
Advances in Veterinary medicine, herd improvement breeding programs has also allowed farmers to increase herd size and production of milk.
[blockquote] During the year ended 30th June 1974 I would estimate that in an area extending from W. O’Nial in the east, to Thompsons Weir and from Gunbower as far west as Alex Hancock and Gunbower Estate – a total of approximately 1,300,000 lbs of butterfat was produced by 45 dairy farms. The number of cows milking in this area would be approximately 4,300 and the gross value of the butterfat produced approximately $845,000. The Manager of Kraft Food Ltd, Leitchville [/blockquote]
Today within the same area there are approximately 20 Dairy Farms with the number of cows about 4,000.