Retreat Creek

May 9, 2016

John and Clare Cotton, owners of Retreat Creek, Victoria have decided to retire from dairy farming and are preparing for the sale or lease of their farm and herd. In the meantime they will revert to a traditional grazing/feeding farm system and batch milk their cows in their existing rotary.

The decision was not taken lightly but made after considering changes in family circumstances and challenges involved with the technology and supporting grazing/feeding system, the impact of a long dry period and now the outlook for milk prices.
Dairy Australia Managing Director Ian Halliday acknowledged that automatic milking for large, grazing herds with voluntary cow traffic is a high challenge, high opportunity farming system. “While it won’t be suitable for some, it has the potential for transformational change in suitable dairy businesses. The industry appreciates the contribution to our knowledge by the Cottons. The experiences and learnings from Retreat Creek will add to FutureDairy’s management guidelines for automatic milking.”

The Automatic Milking Rotaries (AMR) at Gala Farm, Tasmania and the University of Sydney’s Corstorphine farm, NSW, continue to operate grazing based systems with voluntary cow traffic, milking more than 550 cows and 300 cows respectively. One of Australia’s AMRs is among the highest performing AMR farms globally in relation to both milk harvested and number of milkings conducted per day. Another 10 AMRs operate in Europe.

Andrew Pooch, Managing Director Oceania, DeLaval said “we respect the Cotton’s reasoning that has led to this decision and we will do our utmost to support them through these changes. We have been working closely with the Cottons throughout the past 18 months and have assisted them in their transition to automatic milking. Circumstances change and we wish them well in the next stage of their lives.”

The AMR technology was co‐developed by DeLaval and the FutureDairy project to provide an automatic milking solution for large herds for either batch or voluntary milking. FutureDairy’s role has been in developing the farming system that supports voluntary milking through the AMR.

This work will continue at Corstorphine and on commercial automatic milking farms.

For more information, contact Associate Professor Kendra Kerrisk, FutureDairy project leader ph 0428 101 372, email or