More than 50 locals including a dozen regional educators joined Great Southern Science Council's Science of Dairy Milking and Cheesemaking talk in Denmark recently. Denmark artisan producers Malcom Hick (dairy) and Chris Vogel (cheese) shared experiences, technical knowledge and research about dairy milking using an automated milking system (aka AMS or robotic dairy) and designing the best cheese to make from local milk with relation to fat and protein content.
Malcom explained that, while robotic dairy milking technology came from Sweden, the innovation was ideally suited to his family dairy in Denmark. After three years success using AMS for his 100 cows to self-manage their milking schedule, Malcom is often free to do other work on his farm, and he has more time with his young family. "If I'm away from the AMS facility, the milking robot calls or texts me with any issue that needs my decision, for example if one of my girls isn't eating enough, or producing her usual amount of milk and I need to check her more closely."
Chris's artisan cheesemaking factory is within a few kilometers of Malcom's dairy, so milk is sourced within hours of starting the cheesemaking process. Chris explained that he and Malcom work together to fine tune their products, and since the AMS introduction, they've observed very inspiring and consistent terroir in Malcom's dairy milk. Malcom and Chris noted that the cows develop a more natural grazing behaviour when milking is self-scheduled, so a mosaic of pasture use allows the grass to keep up with grazing patterns, resulting in very consistent qualities in the milk.
"I work with the proportions of fat and protein in the milk to design cheeses", said Chris, "and it is always helpful to have a consistent, high quality milk supply so I can focus on making the best cheese possible."
This event was part of National Science Week in the Great Southern 2017, with participants taking advantage of Q&A time with the guest presenters to probe the topic and discuss community implications for technology and experience.
"I most enjoyed understanding the background to the products I consume", commented one participant, while another added, "Malcom and Chris are very knowledgeable, and I enjoyed learning about local people and local produce".
This talk was an example of the opportunities the Great Southern Science Council and its partners offer for Science In Our Community presentations, field days and discussions on topics about science, technology, engineering, maths and innovation, to increase science engagement in the region.