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Regional Information

The Subtropical Dairy region extends for 2,200 kilometers from the Atherton Tablelands in far north Queensland down to Kempsey in northern New South Wales.

Value of our region to the industry

The value of Queensland’s milk production at the farm gate is $340 million per year. After this milk has been processed as drinking milk and including other manufactured products the value of the farm gate price increases to $1.1 billion per year.

Total investment by dairy farmers’ to our industry amounts to over $2.1 billion in their farms, cattle and equipment.

Farming systems, farmers and milk production

The Subtropical Dairy region is home to around 650 dairy farmers. Throughout the region Production systems having generally intensified since 2012. The result of this has meant that more milk is being produced on more intensively managed farms but with fewer farms overall.

Subtropical dairy farms are typically:
• family owned and operated
• an average herd size of 200 – 250 cows
• producing 6,250 litres per cow per year and
• average farm size of 200 – 250 hectares.

Regional milk production is approximately 600 million litres per annum and is primarily for the domestic fresh milk market.

Milk processors and manufacturers

In the region there are seven major processing plants operated by the following companies:
• Lion Nathan
• Parmalat
• Norco (producer owned co-operative), and
• more than 50 boutique processing factories.

Employment in these business, combined with dairy farmers and manufacturing employees account for more than 3,000 people supported by and supporting the success of our industry.

Weather and rainfall

The Subtropical Dairy region is uniquely characterised by hot, humid summers and mild, dry winters. Average annual rainfalls often exceed 2,000 millimeters in the northern parts of the state.

Weather events in the region regularly challenge dairy farm production and profitability including cyclones, flooding and drought.

Major Initiatives

Focus Farms

Dairy Australia has established a network of Focus Farms to support farmer decision making. Find out how Focus Farms looks at the factors impacting decisions at any point in time, including seasonal and market conditions.


DataGene is an independent and industry-owned organisation responsible for driving genetic gain and herd improvement in the Australian dairy industry and is an initiative of Dairy Australia and industry.

More Initiatives