New technology at Karnet dairy helping prisoners prepare for greener pastures

The minimum-security prison farm supplies enough fresh milk to all the State’s prisons ensuring they are fully self-sufficient.

The farm’s 200-strong Holstein herd produces nearly 1.8 million litres of milk each year, which is valued at more than $2.6 million.

New technology at the dairy has enabled a greater efficiency in each animal’s feed allotment, which is a large proportion of the cost.

As the $168,000 system monitors each cow’s production and quality of milk, it adjusts the amount of feed released to meet its needs.

This cuts waste and supports consistent production for each cow.

Vocational Support Officer, Adam Gregory, says there’s been a saving of nearly $240 per day or $87,000 per year, in feed cost.

“The data also lets us select the superior milk production cows for breeding, which further increases the return on the investment,” Mr Gregory said.

“Our top cow produces nearly 60 litres a day, compared with the herd average of 33 litres.”

All that milk is also packaged on site, where each day a modern machine packs 6,000 litres into containers, ready for transport and distribution.

The upgraded equipment works at twice the rate of the previous machines.

Dairy Officer Allison Small supervises the packing room, and like VSO Adam Gregory, shares her knowledge with the prisoners who work there.

“The prisoners are learning contemporary job skills as part of their rehabilitation. We want to ensure they’re employable when they are released.”

In 2021, Karnet Prison Farm won a prestigious award when one of its cows took out a top honour in the largest dairy livestock contest in the Southern Hemisphere.

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