Dairy Farm and Bottling Plant Tour at Fair Cape Dairies

Earlier this year I tried out the Fair Cape RooiBoost, it was one of the sponsored products in the Food Blogger Indaba 2014 goodie bags.  It is no secret that I love Rooibos and all its nutritional benefits.  Plus, the fact that it is a South African original makes me proud of it, therefore it was easy to be excited about the product, RooiBoost.   This evoked my interest and I wanted to know more about the company manufacturing it, their full range of products as well as their story.  And this is how the dairy farm tour came about.

Luckily, Fair Cape is one of those food manufacturing companies giving an opportunity to consumers to experience how the product comes about.   They welcome the public to visit their farm and milking palour based in the Durbanville area.

As you may know, I grew up on a farm and have watched my uncles and cousins milk cows at sunrise on numerous occasions.  This is how it happened; one needed a small wooden chair, grease (for the cows’s teats), an enamel bucket (we call it, i-emele), and hope that the cow won’t kick while being milked (they kicked often causing spillages and injuries).   They would sit on the chair, keep the bucket in between the thighs and use both hands for milking.  After milking, the cows would be taken out of the kraal to the bushes where they fed and wondered about.  Later in the evening, the boys would get them back into the kraal where they would spend the night and be milked again the next morning.   The cow dung (Ubulongwe) was recycled as it was used at home by applying it on the mud floor (we call that Ukusinda).  Believe me it smelled good and the floor would look green and fresh.

At the Fair Cape dairy farm, technology is so advanced, there is plenty of good looking and evidently well bred livestock.

We first had a presentation from the Marketing team focusing on the history and background of the farm, the farming conditions and also got visit the sheds and witness the cows feeding.

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Interesting Facts:

These are some of the interesting facts I picked up from the presentation:

  • Fair Cape business is owned by five Louser brothers.  All the brothers are actively involved in the running of the business.
  • Fair Cape produces / supplies 80% of Woollies dairy products i.e. yoghurts, milkshakes, mousse, custard etc.
  • Fair Cape also supplies Checkers and Shoprite e.g. the Rite brand
  • The farm is 2000 HA big.
  • The farm has approximately 3500 cows.  1500 cows are milked per day, 3 times per day (the cows get to rest for one day then get milked the following day.  But each day, 1500 are milked).
  • One cow produces an average of 41 litres of milk per day with the best cow producing about 100 litres per day.
  • A lot of what the cows are fed is grown on the farm.
  • Fair Cape also owns about 120 HA of irrigated vineyards.  However, they do not produce wine.

The list can go on and on, the presentation also covers how they look after the cows, how they tract their movements and activity, the role and frequency of visits by the vet.

Technology is so advance and the most interesting part is how disciplined the cows are.  Its crazy to watch but they know their routine and what they have to do at what given time.  According to the presentation, the Loubser brothers did an extensive research to get the dairy farm and farming palour to the level it is.  They travelled around the world to different countries where dairy farming and milk is produced.

Farming Palour: 

  • Walk ways have iron grids which help the cows get a better grip.
  • There are fans from the ceiling and water is sprinkled to keep cows cool
  • Each cow has an orange tag – the tag picks up on the problems before milking commences.
  • The cows are milked on a 64 point rotary table with 330 cows milked per hour.
  • After milking, the rotary table becames dirty as you can imagine with cowdung all over the place.  Water is sprayed all over it.
  • The water and cowdung are recycled.    Water is flushed into a man-made dam that is on the farm and it is re-used.  Cowdung is sprayed onto the field and used as a fertilizer on the crops.

The Milking Process:

The cows stand on the rotary table.  There are five guys standing on each side of the table and each one of them plays a different roles in preparation of the cows before the milking commences.  This is what happens:

Guy One – Washes the tits gently with a water pipe to remove cow dung.

Guy Two – Sprays disinfectant – the disinfectant changes the colour of the teats and they end up looking blue, I only noticed this after the cows were milked and I thought it was cool!

Guy Thee – This guy just squeezes the teats and milks the cows just a little bit.  The reason behind this is to look at the colour of the milk, it has to be white at all times.  Failure to comply to this, the cow won’t be milked.

Guy Four – This guy’s role in the milking process is to wipe the tits using a paper towel.

Guy Five – Connects the teats into the teat cups.   We were told that they automatically disconnect themselves from the teats as soon the milking is done.

Social Responsibility:

Fair Cape lives up to their tag line – Do the right thing.  They are doing so by giving back to the community by supporting social causes such as:

  • The Little Fighters Cancer Trust – A trust that assists children with cancer and their families.  Fair Cape has produced a product with the Little Fighters Cancer Trust logo on it and a portion of the sales goes to the trust.
  • Rape Crisis Cape Town Trust – Last year they showed their support by packing a line of their yoghurts in black webbing (black being the colour that symbolizes the campaign against rape). The packs were also marked with a sticker informing the consumers that 20c of every pack sold would be donated to the Rape Crisis Cape Town Trust.
  • The Cancer Alliance – Each year Fair Cape supports this cause, in October 2013, Fair Cape 2L milk bottles had their labels changed to the colour pink which supports breast cancer awareness.  Let’s see what they will have in store for us this year, look out for their products and be part of the initiative.
  • Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA) – Fair Cape prides itself as the only dairy company in the world to have CANSA endorsement on a number of products.  Money generated from the sale of these products goes to the CANSA organization to help them in their fight against cancer and in support of cancer sufferers.
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The geek and foodie in me finds all of this fascinating and I can only hope it is as fascinating to you too.  Our tour did not end there, we made our way to the bottling plant.  This is where the milk, juice and maas (sour milk) bottles are filled.  A small part of me missed working in food manufacturing, a very small part!


For more information visit the website: http://www.faircape.com

Like their page on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/faircape

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About Author


Thuli Gogela is a Food Technologist with 8 years of experience developing products in food manufacturing. She is dedicated to discovering wholesome traditional dishes and recipes with a distinctive taste from different parts of the African continent. Thuli is well known for her food blog, Mzansi Style Cuisine which was established in 2010. She saw a gap in the traditional food market that people were hungry for. From there, it didn’t take long to build her brand. In 2013, she started writing a recipe column for the Cape Times for and has collaborated with some of the biggest brands in South Africa namely, Knorr, Nedeburg Wines, First Choice and Spekko rice. Not only does Thuli feature traditional African dishes, she’s also open to developing recipes, food consultations and brand collaborations.

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