Logan West Dairy Industry by Paul Jackson
If you travel out along Chambers Flat Rd you would have enjoyed the opportunity to admire the beautiful Friesian milking cows grazing at Pleasant View – the last remaining dairy farm in Logan West. But it wasn’t that long ago that the river was lined with dairy farms.
Life long resident, Peter Smith, remembers when dairy farms used to line the Logan River from Macleans Bridge all the way around to Pleasant View at the Kenny Rd intersection. “There were more than a dozen dairy farms along Chambers Flat Rd between the highway and Ivan Wendt’s farm.” Peter said. “Several of the farmers ran ‘dry paddocks’ (referring to paddocks where cows that had stopped milking were left to graze with the bulls until they had calved) across the road, up through what is now Munruben Forest and Park Ridge South.”
Significant dairy farm owners with family names like Trace, Wearing, Gueseman, Miller, Swenson, Wendt, Smith and Kenny, may be recognisable to locals as the names of roads, parks and other points of interest in the area. These families built farms and businesses in Logan West that laid the foundations for the community we enjoy today. It’s not just the products that these families supplied to the community that we should be thankful for but also the infrastructure, services and provisions that their farms brought into the community. Their blood, sweat and tears paved the way for what we enjoy.
The Wendt farm (Pleasant View) has been in the family since 1864. While plenty of the farms bred beef cattle in the late 1800s, the opening of the Kingston Butter Factory in 1907 created a demand for milk and the opportunity for local farmers to develop dairies. The regulation of the industry created some stability of pricing and quotas, but there was no such stability in the seasons or the climate. With winter making it difficult to maintain feed at the best of times, the droughts, floods and other unpredictable occurrences brought many to breaking point.
The river always provided plenty of accessible water, but it wasn’t until around the 1960s that some of the farms established irrigation systems that could get the water up onto the flats to keep large paddocks of feed growing in the dry times. Other improvements and innovations like milking machines, milk storage, milk transportation and feed storage enabled greater efficiency and stability throughout the year as well as increased capacity for more stock.
Unfortunately however, not all farms were able to keep upgrading their dairies and when deregulation introduced competition from the southern states, where the climate is better suited to dairy farming, many Queensland dairies started closing down. This included many of the Logan West dairies.
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