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Yarra Valley Country Life

Hand-milking for a culinary delicacy in the Yarra Valley

In a once a year event, more than 40,000 Atlantic salmon have been individually hand milked for caviar in the Yarra Valley. Yarra Valley Caviar is the only aquaculture farm of its kind in Australia to milk its salmon for caviar entirely by hand. Some 10 tonne of the delicacy came out of the 2011 harvest; the first full harvest since the farm rebuilt after the Black Saturday fires, where it lost more than 13 tonne of fish.

The fish are gently removed from the fresh water ponds in the Victorian Alps of the Yarra Valley Ranges where they are reared, and hand milked under an entirely natural anaesthetic – made from clove oil – so as not to cause them any undue stress. They are then returned to their ponds to spawn again the following year, and the fish roe is immediately processed and packed on site, with no additives.

“We staunchly believe that treating our fish humanely has a direct effect on the quality of the caviar, and the flesh of the fish, so we won’t use antibiotics or chemicals and give our fish plenty of space to move.”

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