Two far North Queensland farming families, confident in the future of their local dairy industry, are bringing an old dairy farm back to life, 20 years since milk last flowed at the property.
Malanda's Chris O'Brien and Joshua Ryan will officially begin milking on Friday using a rebuilt shed and herd sourced from dispersed dairy operations.
Mr O'Brien purchased a 120 hectare former dairy at Butchers Creek 10 years ago, with intention of developing it into a Wagyu and miniature cattle breed farm.
He employed Joshua to work on his beef property, but they decided to transition into dairying.
"Josh has an expertise in dairy farming and combining it with large enterprise, which is me, we've got a vision of building of a big enterprise and this is just the first stepping stone for us," Mr O'Brien said.
"We started scanning the different breeds, but since the market had evolved from volume to solids, we started to look into Jersey Guernsey."
The pair, alongside renowned dairy judge Paul Newlands, visited three dairy herd dispersal sales; purchasing 44 Jerseys from the Hartin family's at Millaa Millaa, 65 head from a Lowood sale, and 37 head from Long Flat, New South Wales.
Mr O'Brien said the purchases represented $350,000 in total.
"We've bought in at the top level of genetics, so now the game for us is just to stay on that edge," he said.
"I'm a reasonable business planner I'd like to think, but I'm still a novice on farming, so I relied on extrapolating what I could from Josh.
"We were also going to build a new shed and then we ratcheted that back and decided it would be cheaper and faster to convert the old shed, saving time and money.
We ended up spending money sourcing milking equipment from three dairies, which had shut down.- Chris O'Brien, Butchers Creek dairy farmer
The dairy farm will now run on 200 hectares, across two of Chris' properties and a neighbouring lease block.
Their 10 aside milking shed will also hold a 6000 litre milk storage tank.
Mr Ryan, who had worked on dairy farms most of his life, was excited for the challenge and change.
"I've been working on other dairy farms for probably 15 years and my parent's had a dairy farm at Topaz, but they only milked 40 cows back in the day, before they transitioned out," he said.
"When I first started working with Chris, this old dairy was just a shed, with a crush for the beef cattle and the yards weren't operational.
"I started doing some ringing around, finding some dairies that were shut down and went and sourced equipment from local old dairies to build our new dairy."
They will begin milking 80 head of Jersey cows, but hope to increase numbers to 180 milkers.
"In the north, you get paid on your components and the solids in your milk, and Jerseys produce that good butter fat and protein," Mr Ryan said. .
"We're hoping each cow will produce 20 to 24 litres of milk.
"It might not be that to start with, because this dairy hasn't been a dairy farm for last 20 years, so the pastures need a little more improving."