Embracing innovative changes can reap rewards in dairy farming
Dairy farming in Ireland has changed significantly in recent years. The modern-day farmer will not slave on the farm as did previous generations and the good news is that labour-saving, efficient milking parlours can be sourced on a budget suited to you.
It is important to free up time to do other farm tasks that complement the milking process which also contributes to the return on investment. Tiredness, stress, heavy workload are some factors that can lead to poor decisions for the farm and can jeopardise the farmer’s long-term health.
The milking parlour must reflect the herd size and it is necessary to take this into account during the design process. Things to consider are whether to install a larger parlour or to build a larger building where you have the option of adding on extra units in future years.
Herd expansion in conjunction with a shortage of skilled labour is having a huge impact on farming life; farmers are looking for a better work-life balance and that’s where automation can play a pivotal role in transforming the milking process.
In addition to this, it is important to install the latest cost-saving technologies: More and more products are energy efficient and this in turn will benefit you in terms of saving money long term.
A smarter layout for smoother milking
The best way to design a good working parlour is to prioritise good cow flow to and from the parlour. Optimal cow flow can be established by creating a smart layout. Cows do not like sharp bends, level differences, slippery floors or protruding objects.
The size of the collecting yard is dependent on herd size and parlour type. Installing an automatic backing gate will enable operators to work without delay and allows stress-free cow flow.
Also, ensure the design of your facilities is tailored to your cows’ size as it is very frustrating to find out after installing the parlour that animals are restless due to lack of space or that you must bend over too much for a simple attachment of clusters.
Cows exiting the parlour can do so by means of a rapid exit system which further speeds up milking time.
Dairymaster provides expert advice and ideas on the design of the parlour before construction work begins. The full set of drawings are designed to specifically suit your needs and give you the best solution for your farm.
Reduce the heavy workload
You can increase throughput in the parlour by increasing the number of units or by adding personnel. Choosing a milking parlour that milks out faster will also give you extra efficiency and more enjoyment.
If you spend on average of 1.5 hours per milking and are milking twice daily, you are working almost 1,100 hours in your parlour each year or to break it down further – 21 hours per week.
With herd size increasing, more is required from you both physically and mentally and comfort in the parlour becomes paramount. Milking comfort can be achieved by designing milking equipment ergonomically. This means the parlour and all other necessities are made to your requirements and size.
Systems that are better for the cow and better for the farmer…
Automation is where technology plays a role in transforming the milking process. There are different levels of automation based on your needs. The following are some products that can significantly contribute to changing your life in the milking parlour.
- Once milking is completed the cluster is automatically removed from the cow. As well as saving labour and time, the huge benefit of this is that cows are not over or under-milked, resulting in better udder health.
- The Dairymaster ClusterCleanse is an immense aid for improving milking hygiene. It is of great assistance to farmers fighting the battle against the spread of contagious mastitis during milking, such as Staphylococcus aureus (staph); Streptococcus agalactiae (Strep. ag); or mycoplasma. ClusterCleanse sanitises each cluster, ensuring it is cleaned consistently after each cow and is available for all types of parlours, with manual or automatic options.
- The Dairymaster Swiftflo Commander offers a new level of intelligence and a lot more information for monitoring and controlling each cow’s milking, feeding and animal health at each cow milking point – when and where it’s needed. There is no longer a need for running up and down the parlour with notepads or walking to the office to look up information. It displays important information such as milk yield, milking time and somatic cell count (SCC) data on each cow and much more. The Swiftflo Commander gives you the capability and functionality of doing herd management at every single milking point in a very easy manner, allowing you to milk cow’s quicker, better and more efficiently while aiming for optimal milk quality.
- Dairymaster’s feeding-to-yield system allows for each cow to perform better. Feeding the right amounts to your cows is key for optimal performance and keeping your cows healthy. Dairymaster’s precision feeders can be set to a cow’s individual needs, allowing you to keep its body condition score (BCS) at a prime level for production. Farmers can reward high-yielding cows and prevent feed wastage on the lower yielders, reducing feed costs. A well-balanced diet keeps cows healthier and more fertile. Many farmers have seen results of better production and lower bills.
- Dairymaster’s AutoDrafting is suitable for any type of farm where reduced labour is required. With AutoDrafting you can go on milking while cows are being automatically sorted. This allows the farmer to stay in the pit, streamlining the milking process.
Consider the long-term benefits
The energy-efficient option is sometimes thought of as the more expensive option, however, in recent years these options have become much more affordable and the return on investment can be seen quickly. It is worth looking at options that will financially benefit you long term.
For example, investing in heat recovery technologies such as the Dairymaster SwiftCool Duo for warming up water while cooling the milk or invest in a Dairymaster CoolControl super insulated milk cooling tank to slash your cooling costs.
The Dairymaster VSaver rapidly optimises pump speed according to air demand for the parlour. As a result, its motors use less current during normal operation. Typically, where the VSaver is installed, there is 50-80% less energy consumption.
A parlour to suit your budget…
There are solutions from entry level to top-of-the-range and these are only some of the many options to consider when buying a parlour. With Dairymaster, there are no limits on what can be added to the parlour – all Dairymaster technology is compatible and works in harmony with each other.
Be sure to optimise comfort and welfare for the cow and for yourself.