Innovative solutions easing change to dairy sheep

Article Details

25 Nov, 2020

Southern Rural Life


New Zealand’s emerging dairy sheep industry is becoming an attractive proposition for farmers looking to reduce their environmental footprint but remain profitable for future generations.

Waikato Milking Systems is helping farmers realise the benefits of making the switch from dairy cow to dairy sheep, using its global experience in small ruminants fine-tuned for New Zealand. 

The company’s Small Ruminants Specialist, Andy Geissmann, said feedback from the 2019 Fieldays showed there was interest from farmers to enter the dairy sheep or dairy goat markets.

That prompted the company to develop specific milking solutions for each and in 2020 it commissioned four dairy sheep and three dairy goat parlours which had exceeded expectations.

It included two Agili Sheep Rapid Exit parlours, converted from existing herringbone cow sheds. 

“We designed the rapid exit parlour as a cost-effective, simple, and robust system to provide farmers with improved milking efficiency and sheep flow,” Andy said.

“It can be easily installed as a new system or adapted into an existing inline cow shed.”

One of the properties was smaller scale, no longer commercially viable for cows, but ideal for up to 1200 milking ewes, making it profitable, with a lower environmental footprint.

Waikato Milking Systems also installed its first Ultimo Internal Sheep Rotary parlour, capable of milking up to 960 sheep per hour, and can be easily operated with minimal labour, providing large savings on labour costs. 

“We designed the sheep rotary with comfort in mind, to reduce the animals’ stress levels so they let their milk down easily.

“The system is configured to ensure the sheep are always walking forward, when they enter and exit the platform, which reduces initial training required.”

Andy said the rapid exit and rotary parlours can be fitted with milking automation technology, to help farmers maxmise milking time and reach their productivity goals each day.

Source: Southern Rural Life