A more efficient and enjoyable milking time, for staff and cows
Since installing a new 60-point Centrus Composite Rotary milking system, milking time has become more efficient and enjoyable for the sharemilkers, staff and cows working on Allister Simson’s 300 hectare farm in Whenuakura, South Taranaki.
Working with their Waikato Milking Systems dealers, Hunts Farm Services and Moa Milking & Pumping, the new milking system was installed in time for the 2021-22 season - replacing the farm’s original 40-point open centre steel platform rotary that was commissioned in 1982.
“The old rotary had served us well, but its steel platform had come to the end of its life and the overall system was too small for the number of dairy cows on the farm now” says Allister.
Because the old milking shed was tight for space, Allister knew that if he were to put a new platform into the old shed it would have to be of a smaller size because of the limited clearance, saying “That’s one of the reasons we decided on a new build instead of redevelopment.”
To make the most use of the existing infrastructure including the races, tanker track and effluent system - the new system was built next to the old milking system.
The new collection yard, entry and exit points were modelled on the old rotary shed to provide a familiar cow-flow system for the animals to follow. “We designed it that way so it wouldn’t be too much of a change for the cows and I think they have adapted well” says Allister.
“The outside of the new parlour may look familiar, but inside is where the differences with the new modern milking system become apparent. “It’s a lot more open compared to our old rotary sheds and there’s more light coming in. There’s also more room to manoeuvre which makes it easy for the sharemilkers and staff when they’re working.”
Before deciding on a new milking system Allister had looked at several other rotary manufacturers, but it was Waikato Milking Systems composite deck on the Centrus system that really appealed.
“There isn’t anyone else making decks using composite materials that are much lighter and longer lasting, everything seems to be concrete these days. I went to see a few other Centrus platforms working and they still looked brand new after two or three years”.
Allister adds “The composite deck operates much more quietly than the steel deck on the old rotary, providing a calm environment for everyone to work in”.
While the Simson farm has the capacity to run 650 dairy cows they have set peak milking at 540 cows as they’re also self-contained with having all of their young stock on-farm. “That takes a bit of pressure off the farm system and the 60-bail Centrus performs well milking that number of cows at peak, with room to go further if needed.
It’s a really good space to work in now, it’s easier to move around the rotary. The cows look happy and we hope the Centrus will last even longer than the original rotary,” says Allister.
Feedback from Allister’s sharemilkers, Dean and Jess, confirms that their milking time has reduced considerably “through very good cow-flow and the easy operation of the new milking system”.
Thanks to some key automation onboard the Centrus system, only one person is required for milking.
This automation includes the ECR-Plus (electronic cup removers), the SmartSPRAY system (automatic teat spray) and Cow Restraints (for cow retention). “We had cup removers on the old rotary too but it’s the time management factor in the Centrus which has improved and made the difference we were looking for” says Allister.
The unique Bail Marshal system on the Centrus Rotary Parlour will allow more automation features to be added later when needed.
During the build of the new Centrus Rotary, which started in 2020, milking continued out of the old shed to avoid disruption to the business. The project was originally scheduled for completion within 8 months, however the Covid-19 pandemic forced delays and the parlour was completed in 2021.