The smart, labour-saving way to identify cell count cows

When North Taranaki farmer Andrew Slater decided to upgrade his cow shed from a 35-aside Herringbone to a 54 bail Orbit Concrete Rotary milking system, it was a case of “all or nothing”.

With milking time taking three hours in the old shed for two staff to milk 15 rows “It was pretty tough going, especially at spring time” says Andrew.

The 180 hectare family farm “Chislehurst” is located near Bell Block on the outskirts of New Plymouth, with 570 cows.

Before deciding on the best milking and automation systems for his farm, the former Taranaki provincial rugby captain spent 12 months conducting extensive research including talking to other farmers, as well as visiting numerous milking sheds and the Waikato Milking Systems factory.

Andrew says “It’s a big investment so you need to make sure you are aligning yourself with the right plant, and the right company.”

Andrew had a clear plan in his mind in terms of the functionality he wanted from a new rotary milking system, and the key automation technology that would reduce labour - and singled out SmartD-TECT as the most important component for his specific requirements.

SmartD-TECT provides pre-milking stimulation for faster milk let-down and automates udder health detection in the form of testing individual quarters for conductivity discrepancies, “I was looking for technology options, rather than manual labour, to help identify cell count cows.” says Andrew.

Andrew’s research concluded that SmartD-TECT was the best option for his farm, and it continuously performs up to his expectations.

“It identifies a variation in conductivity between quarters and will definitely find cell count cows, but it also identifies other animals that are subclinical or are singled out for some other reason.”

All cows identified by SmartD-TECT are retained for the operator to check, release or detain for further treatment or inspection. “There are other systems around to specifically detect mastitis but they are very expensive to run whereas SmartD-TECT has a virtually zero cost to run” says Andrew.

To further reduce labour on his new rotary system, Andrew wanted to include other key milking automation technology. So he opted for the ECR Plus range of Electronic Cup Removers, which features the Bail Marshal that allows ‘Plug-and-Play’ capabilities for SmartD-TECT - and other milk monitoring technology such as Electronic Milk Meters and Yield Indicators.

Andrew also included SmartSPRAY automatic teat sprayers, and SmartWASH for automatic plant washing. “It’s all about labour-saving and I wanted to make it a one-man shed. To do that you need all of those automation options working together, and my view is that you go all in or nothing at all” says Andrew.

Commissioned by Waikato Milking Systems dealer Moa Milking and Pumping ahead of the 2021-2022 season, Andrew says the Orbit Rotary Milking Parlour System, SmartD-TECT and additional automation technology has significantly reduced the labour demand and milking time on his farm.

The farm now has only one person milking, while another brings the second herd in and continues with other farm work. “During spring we have two people in the shed for the colostrum cows but once we get past spring the second person is handy to help with the wash up” says Andrew.

  • SmartD-TECT
  • ECR Plus
  • SmartSPRAY
  • SmartWASH
  • Waikato 320 Standard Cluster

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