HAROLD HOPPER’S herd of 80 dairy milk goats are one of the eye-catching features of the Sunshine Coast Hinterland. Not that Harold keeps them for their looks. Goat’s milk is now eagerly sought by those who are lactose intolerant, and Harold’s goat’s milk is now being turned into a new range of Colin James ice creams.

Harold is the head of the Hopper family which runs the successful Maleny Dairies. At 76 Harold is content to let the rest of the family run the business while he tends his herd of goats. He still milks them every afternoon, and the milk and yoghurt contribute to the Maleny Dairies product range. But it’s the ice cream that puts a smile on Harold’s face.

“Col Cunningham made us some goat’s milk ice cream for our Christmas party one year and it was fabulous! Absolutely spot on. It had the wow factor, and everyone said it was the best ice cream they had ever tasted. It had a texture and flavour that was superb … extra smooth.

Colin James ice cream is about to go into top gear with the opening of his new production plant in Lawyer Street, Maleny. (see story opposite page).

“Goats are great to work with,” says Harold . “They are intelligent and easy to handle, and they convert fodder to milk more efficiently than other dairy animals. They produce their own body weight in milk every ten days.”

What’s so special about goat’s milk?

It has superior digestibility and boasts more protein and calcium, and half the fat of cow’s milk. It has a natural structure with alkaline properties that is attractive to lactose sensitive people.

The Maleny Dairies success story emerged out of a declining dairy industry in the late ‘90s on the Sunshine Coast.Their Guernsey herd and busy milk processing plant now deliver 15 milk-based products around the Sunshine Coast. Every single product has won gold, silver or bronze awards many times in the Brisbane Ekka and Sydney Royal Easter Shows. Farm and dairy tours are also part of the business mix.

The Hoppers are always full of ideas and the farm tours will be complemented with a restaurant and product shop later in 2011.

As for Harold, he is waiting for Col Cunningham’s next experiment in goat’s milk ice cream, because he gets the first tub!