Barry Clarke: dairy career prolongs football passion

Brian Clarke from Rick Bayne Fleurieu-086A (2)



by Rick Bayne


Barry Clarke has many reasons to be thankful for being part of the dairy industry. Dairy has given him a profitable career and a job he enjoys – and it’s helped to prolong a football career into his 50s.

While most men Barry’s age are thinking about low-impact sports, every second Sunday the South Australian dairy farmer and milk processor dusts off his old football boots and lines up in the local super rules football competition.

And it doesn’t end there. Three times this year he’s helped his old team Myponga-Sellicks when they’ve been short on numbers in the B-grade division, adding to his remarkable record of more than 550 A-grade games until he was 47 and another 100 B-grade since then.

“I never got many injuries and I think dairy farming was probably part of that,” Barry said.

“As I got older I got stiff and sore but you have to get out of bed and milk the cows, walk around, climb up and down the steps and carry buckets of milk. It made me better. I had to move around and get rid of that stiffness and soreness.

“I’m sure it helped more than sitting around on the couch all day.”

Barry’s dairy career has been equally impressive.

Ten years ago an off-the-cuff comment while on holidays with local farming mates led to a successful business partnership between Barry and his wife Merridie, Geoff and Louise Hutchinson, and Chris and Karen Royans.

“We were at Geoff’s place at Wallaroo and there was a general conversation about the crap milk prices and high input costs and as a throw-away line I said to Geoff we ought to bottle and sell our own milk.

“Geoff rang me back on the Monday morning and said he’d given Chris a ring and we should have a crack.”

They did have a crack and two years later the first bottles rolled off the production line.

A decade after that first discussion, the Fleurieu Milk Company continues to thrive. The partners own three farms that supply milk for the processing plant and have recently added a new supplier to the mix and increased production to process milk Monday to Friday and make yoghurt on Mondays and Thursdays.

The business has been built around a successful domestic market but is getting Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service accreditation for potential exports.

“We’ve had inquiries from China, Singapore and Hong Kong, and because the farms are growing and we’ve taken on another milk supplier, we’re interested in having a look but I wouldn’t want export to be any more than 20 per cent of our income.

“There’s still a good domestic market for us. People obviously like the product.”

Barry describes the products as fresh from the cow and pasteurised and packaged on the farm.

“We don’t do anything to standardise it. At different times of the year it will taste a bit different, that’s just the way it is.

“The people who buy it like to know where it comes from and that we treat our calves and cows well.”

Barry and Merridie’s Roslyn Vale farm runs about 280 Jerseys that contribute to the Jersey Premium brand.

The Holstein-Friesian stock from the Windy Vale Holstein Stud are used to manufacture the Fleurieu Farm Fresh Range produce.

While most on the outside world might think getting up at 4.30am to milk cows is tough, that’s a late start for Barry.

“I get out of bed about 2am and jump in the truck and take a couple of loads of milk to the factory so the guys can get started about 3. I’ll grab another load of milk and come home about 4 to milk and the day just goes from there.”

His working day normally finishes about 6pm but Barry isn’t complaining and he still gives priority time to his family of three children.

“The guys who do the day-to-day running of the factory do a damn good job but it’s our factory and I like to be involved.

“I’ve always enjoyed dairy farming and I like the cows. Geoff’s the same. We both enjoy being in the dairy milking the cows in the morning. You don’t have to talk to anybody if you don’t want to, you can just listen to the radio and milk the cows.”

Barry admits the peninsula is a tough area to farm and that moving into production protected their future.

“We might not be milking cows without it but we still consider ourselves dairy farmers,” he said.

“Since we’ve started the factory we’ve been able to pay ourselves good money for the milk so the farms are quite profitable now and the factory still makes good money.”

The company also gives back to the local community, supporting causes like Little Heroes, and the partners are active in local dairy discussion groups and promoting the Legendairy communication initiative to enhance the industry.

Barry sees a bright future for dairy.

“The industry is as good as it has been for quite some time. With exports and world prices it seems likely to be okay for a while. You want the industry to be buoyant and young people to come into it.”

Barry still enjoys being a dairy farmer and milk producer – and still enjoys his football.

“I filled in three times in the B-grade this year just to help out when they were short but I still play super rules every second Sunday. You can have a good laugh and joke in the super rules. We’re past being dead serious at our age.”


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  1. I bet his cows like him too. its every cocky’s dream to control the marketing chain as far forward as possible. go bazza.


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