A fifth-generation dairy farming family are value adding on their Lake Boga farm to ensure a future for their growing family.

The people of Lake Boga, population 989, are very proud of their local milk. It comes from a dairy on the far side of this inland lake near Swan Hill, 325 kilometres northwest of Melbourne.

Bethune Lane Dairy is a big farm, part of the family-owned Lake Boga Pastoral company, milking over 1100 cows twice a day, producing 22 000 litres of milk every day and employing 20 local people.

The Bethune family have been milking cows on this flat Murray River floodplains country since the 1940s. In 2020 Paul and Sally Bethune decided to add value to their milk and started making cheese but quickly settled on processing milk, yoghurt, and chocolate milk flavoured with Belgian Callebaut chocolate. “We have five boys,” says Sally. “We wanted them to have an opportunity to have a livelihood living on the land.”

For Bethune Lane Dairy products, the Bethunes take just a fraction of their supply, around 3000 litres a week. The rest of the milk heads to Noumi Foods, producer of Milklab barista milk.

The big difference between Bethune Lane Dairy milk and most processed milks is that Bethune Lane milk is not standardised – which would mean skimming off some of the fat and perhaps reducing the protein levels to make sure every bottle was the same no matter the time of year.

The dairy features a state of the art rotary system with a high degree of automation and software that tracks the production and health of the herd. Environmental concerns sit at the heart of the farm. Electricity is expensive and irrigation can be eye-wateringly so. “We catch the sun in our solar panels and every drop of water is used again and again and again,” says Sally. There is zero manure runoff from the dairy with all the effluent captured and reused for fertiliser. “We have been planting trees for shade, shelter and habitat for years and I will do so for years to come.”

Bethune Lane Dairy products are available in western and north-western Victoria.

Products: Pasteurised milk and yoghurt

https://www.bethunelanedairy.com.au/ @bethunelanedairy