The Dairy Pride By-products Program started at Lion’s breweries in Adelaide and Brisbane. (Supplied: Lion Dairy and Drinks)
We have all heard of turning water into wine, but what about turning beer into milk?
Under a trial program, dairy farmers across South Australia and south-east Queensland are using leftover brewers’ grain to feed their cows.
The Dairy Pride By-Products Program started at Lion Brewery in Adelaide (West End) and Brisbane (XXXX) and is now set to expand to NSW, Victoria and Western Australia.
Increasing milk productivity
Dairy Farmers Milk Cooperative (DFMC) chair Duncan McInnes said he became involved in the program 12 months ago on his property on the Scenic Rim in south-east Queensland.
He said as part of a balanced cow diet, brewers’ grain had helped to increase milk output, enhanced protein composition, and improved farm productivity.
“We milk up to 440 cows in the spring time [and] we’ve found it a great benefit to the farm to add it to the diet and it’s saved us some money,” Mr McInnes said.
“Certainly our average milk production per cow has gone up and our components have gone up slightly also.
“It is there 12 months of the year and the supply seems to have been reasonably consistent, which is good.
“This is a real win-win situation because Lion farmers have the potential to send more milk into the Lion factory.”
Part of a balanced diet
Mr McInnes said the brewers’ grain had become an integral part of his dairy cows’ diet.
“You can’t live by bread alone as the old saying goes. You couldn’t just have this diet, but the way we use it is quite efficient for us,” he said.
“[Brewers’ grain] has certainly helped us and really improved the quality and the digestibility of the diet.
“It’s very high in protein and its very high in moisture too.
“[It] is what they term a ‘wet brewers’ grain’, which is about 75 per cent moisture, whereas ordinary grain only has 10 per cent moisture in it.
“It’s all about getting the diets right for the cows and having the protein and energy in balance. It has become an integral part of our cows’ diets”.
As part of a balanced diet, brewers’ grain has helped farmers to increase milk output, enhanced protein composition, and improved farm productivity. (Kim Honan: ABC Rural)
Program to expand
Mr McInnes said negotiations were currently underway for the program to expand to Tooheys breweries in NSW and Victoria and Little Creatures in WA.
He said the by-product would be particularly beneficial for farmers within the Sydney area and in the Southern Highlands where freight costs would be low.
“If you have to travel three hours, there’s a lot of freight involved compared to an hour’s freight like we are out of Brisbane,” Mr McInnes said.
“And I think virtually all the ones in south-east Queensland that are taking it are probably within the hour of Brisbane.
“But there are a number of DFMC suppliers and Lion direct farmers in that [Sydney] area who would be able to take advantage of it and those discussions are underway at the current time.”
In addition, NSW farmers will be eligible to apply for citrus pulp, sourced from Lion’s juice operations in Leeton.
Building sustainable partnerships
Lion Dairy and Drinks managing director, Peter West, said Lion was focused on building long-term sustainable value in the Australian dairy industry.
“We’re proud to be partnering with our colleagues at Lion’s iconic Tooheys and Little Creatures breweries, to include a brewers’ grain offer to dairy farmers who supply us in NSW, WA and Victoria,” Mr West said.
“Access to by-products such as brewers’ grain and citrus pulp is a benefit we are uniquely positioned to offer, as the only major milk processor with a significant non-dairy production footprint.
“While the volume of grain and citrus pulp available under the program is relatively modest, we’re confident that we can continue to offer meaningful benefits to more farmers, and further enhance LDD’s overall farmer offer.”
Mr West said farm partnerships were a critical part of their business.
“Longer term, we will explore the feasibility of offering farmers access to other stock feeds,” he said.
“For example, soy hulls and okara (soy pulp), which are by-products of Lion’s Vitasoy joint venture, and also extending the program to Tasmanian farmers.”