by clicking the arrows at the side of the page, or by using the toolbar.
by clicking anywhere on the page.
by dragging the page around when zoomed in.
by clicking anywhere on the page when zoomed in.
web sites or send emails by clicking on hyperlinks.
Email this page to a friend
Search this issue
Index - jump to page or section
Archive - view past issues
TAS Country : December 23rd 2010
mber 24, 2010 11 amo milks the future TRANQUIL: Situated in a picturesque location, the Pyengana Dairy Company and Cheese Factory. Pictures: KAROLIN MacGREGOR and ROSS MARSDEN. BLISS: The Pyengana cows love their automatic back scratcher. Longevity should improve because they're not being pushed around every day when they come in, and they're not jumping all over each other and damaging their hips or getting sore feet.' said they needed a constant supply of milk from their herd of 227 cows. Mr Healey said the ability to milk several times a day with the robotic system meant it would now be possible to increase the per cow production across the herd. While they use some of the milk for cheese- making and other products, the rest is supplied to Fonterra. The automatic milkers do involve a significant capital investment initially, but Mr Healey said the long-term savings in labour combined with extra production would help cover the costs. The Pyengana herd is mainly friesians and rather than add more cows, Mr Healey has focused on improving pasture management and feeding to ensure cows reach their maximum production. With the new automatic system, Mr Healey is anticipating that the cows will also be able to be milked for longer. ''Longevity should improve because they're not being pushed around every day when they come in, and they're not jumping all over each other and damaging their hips or getting sore feet,'' he said. It has taken some time to work through initial teething problems with the new system, but Mr Healey said it was now working quite effectively. There is still some work to do on the farm's laneways but Mr Healey said, surprisingly, the cows had adapted to the system very quickly. Food is the main motivator that gets the cows to voluntarily take themselves through the automatic milkers. As well as being fed a specified grain ration in the milking machines, once the cows are milked they also have access to a paddock where there is fresh grass. All the cows are fitted with special collars, that provide individual electronic identification and record other vital information such as the amount of chews each cows does and how far she walks and her temperature. Drafting gates set on timers are used to send the cows through the system and into the correct paddocks. ''The smarter ones know when the gates are going to change over and you'll see them standing at the gate in the yard and every now and then they'll just swing their head past the reader to see if it will open,'' he said. ''Some of them are really into it and they'll come through four or five times a day.'' Getting the pasture availability right is crucial to motivate the cows to go through the system. ''Attention to detail is important with this system, because everything has to be right for it to work properly,'' Mr Healey said. Because the cows are not being pushed into the dairy, they are more relaxed when they go into the milking stations which improves milk let-down time and milking speed. Each quarter of the cows' udders are milked individually and records for each milking are kept in a database. Mr Healey said this prevented over milking and made it easy to identify if there was a problem with a cow's udder. The cows' teats are scrubbed by specially designed brushes before milking to make sure they are clean and a teat spray is applied after milking. The machines can detect if the milk is contaminated and it will automatically be kept separate from the main vat. The milk lines are also flushed regularly. Detailed information about each cow is also kept including individual production, how much grain they are consuming and how many milkings they are doing each day. Any cows that are identified to have a problem can be automatically drafted into a side yard at the dairy to the looked at. After they have been milked an automatic scratching machine, which the cows love, is used to entice them away from the milking area. Between them the three milking stations can milk about 6600L a day. There is also the potential to install a fourth machine.
December 16th 2010
January 6th 2011