The Chandler family from Mulgundawa, South Australia, is among the number of farmers in the state who have changed their operation to take advantage of niche dairy opportunities.
Mark and Jenny Chandler converted their conventional farm to organic in 2002 and now exclusively supply a specialist dairy processor, Divine Dairy, which makes specialist cheeses and sells them in the Adelaide Hills.
The arrangement has resulted in the farm business attracting a premium price for its milk.
With the support of their two sons and daughter, Kane, Simon and Jess, the family milks about 480 cows (predominantly Holstein with about 30 per cent red breeds) on 600 ha south of Murray Bridge.
Operating in a low rainfall area, the farm uses three centre pivot irrigators and applies rotational grazing practices.
Being an organic operation, the farm has had to become self-sufficient in its feed supply.
The family is also grappling with a problem unique to South Australia.
Thousands of Cape Barren geese regularly visit the farm and devour the lucerne crop.
“They’re like lawn mowers,” Mark Chandler said.
“It costs us a lot in water to keep up to them.”
The Chandlers respect the native birds but have been urgently seeking a solution which will ease the pressure on their bottom line.