Ethical milk – which brand to buy?

There’s a feeling “out there” in the Twitterverse that milk aint what it used to be. So, what to choose?

The first piece of good news is that there’s lots you don’t need to worry about. Growth hormones are illegal on Australian dairy farms for a start. Free range cows are also the norm (I haven’t seen a housed herd in Australia and wouldn’t even know where to find one).

Thanks to what raw-milk advocates often call Australia’s “ridiculously stringent” food safety laws, you can be confident your dairy foods are safe for even your most frail family members; the Chinese melamine disaster won’t happen here. Despite the marketing campaigns of a large multinational corporation, permeate (check my all about permeate post to find out more) is also safe and nutritious.

If want farmers to receive a fair price for milk, you can still shop at the big supermarkets with a clear conscience if you buy a brand-name milk. It’s even better if you can buy the Devondale brand of dairy products because they are made by the 100% farmer-owned co-op, Murray Goulburn. If you can access a farmstead brand of milk, that’s okay too. Don’t feel guilty if you can’t find or afford a farmstead brand though – very, very few dairy farmers can afford to set up a milk processing plant after all and we are grateful that you are supporting us by choosing not to buy the generic stuff.

14 thoughts on “Ethical milk – which brand to buy?

  1. At a recent DPI /Dairy industry seminar, I learnt that dairies in SW Victoria are aiming to increase production from 2 billion to 3 billion litres p/a
    They expect a dramatic increase in housed herds to do this. Personally I want my milk predominantly grass fed and free range but efficient production may eventually push that ideal into history or niche markets.


  2. We have some of the highest and stringent standards for the production of our food, be it dairy, meat, vegetables, etc and as a result we are privy to some of the best quality product to found anywhere. Whether it be through HACCP and quality assessment plans such as run by Dairy Australia, Growcom, the MLA, Biological Farmers Australia, etc, consumers can be assured that products are consistently safe.


  3. Hi Marian,
    If I buy any of the branded milks, can I be assured they’re not sending calves off to slaughter at a few days old? I know you don’t do that, but is that industry-wide? This is my main concern about dairy, which I love and would like to keep consuming.
    thanks for any advice,


  4. I spoke to A2 milk today & asked them if their milk is from hormone free cows. They could not answer. HGP (Hormone Growth Promotants) are legal in Australia & widely used among 40% of Australian cattle. There are concerns that milk from cows with HGP implants contains hormones. Do we know if standard milk comes from cows with or without HGP?


  5. HGP (Hormone Growth Promotants) are in use in Australia in nearly half of our cattle. It’s definitely legal & happening right here, right now. Woolworths meat comes from cattle with HGP & Coles ensure consumers their meat is hormone free. Are you saying that cows with HGP cannot be used for milking but they can be used for meat? Sorry, I’m slightly confused.


    • I can’t speak with any authority about beef, Delina, but it’s certainly illegal to use HGPs on dairy cattle in Australia. You can drink any brand of Aussie milk with confidence.


  6. I’m delighted to learn this! I live in China and a foreign supermarket sells the Devondale milk from Australia. I use it to make my own Greek yogurt. The full cream version is on special. The Chinese don’t like it because it’s too yellow. (probably because the cows graze on grass :-)) So i will be stocking up. Pity it’s gone through UHT process though. I suppose that’s a lessor evil than the tainted milk here.


  7. Please first priority is the cows and baby calf they need to have a good life maybe your milk can be more expensive and bobby calve can be kept in paddock and fed do not terminate precious lives put retail cost up and feel proud Animals are first always and second is money. They are precious do you agree nothing is easy but with good morals as a gentleman you can do it the whole world would be very proud of you r achievement and these precious sentient beings


  8. Hello. Not sure if u still get notified if someone posts here, but do you still stand by the Devondale/ Murray Golburn statement? I understand MG “partially floated” on the stock exchange last year and have recently lowered the milk price retrospectively so that farmers now owe them money. That is what has made me start looking into what milk I should buy and am finding it really hard. Thanks


    • Hi Julia,
      First of all, thanks for asking the question. Buying Australian-made branded milk (rather than the cheap home-brand stuff) means you’re helping support a sustainable milk price.


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