Programme helps speed up milking

SUE O'DOWD
Last updated 08:33 06/03/2014
DairyNZ’s Andrea Henry and Hawera dairy farmer Kevin Hall inspect a rapid mastitis test kit at a Milksmart seminar in Stratford.
ANDY JACKSON/Fairfax Media

LEARNING CURVE: DairyNZ’s Andrea Henry and Hawera dairy farmer Kevin Hall inspect a rapid mastitis test kit at a Milksmart seminar in Stratford.

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Practical measures that help to streamline the way cows are milked have been outlined to Taranaki farmers.

About 135 people took part in DairyNZ's Milksmart programme at the Stratford Demonstration Farm last week. Ten seminars are being held throughout the country.

The programme was structured in a way that offered tools and skills suitable for every level of experience, from junior farm assistants through to farm managers and owners, project manager Chris Leach, of Hamilton, said.

Participants can pick and choose the sessions they want to attend, taking part in just one session, a few or the entire programme.

Sessions cover stockmanship, mastitis management, staff training, career options and staff relationships, milking technology, and efficient water use.

Speakers at the Stratford seminar included an international authority on lameness in pasture-fed cattle, Inglewood veterinarian Neil Chesterton; mastitis expert and vet David Hawkins, of Franklin, near Auckland; milk quality specialist Josh Wheeler, of Tauranga; and DairyNZ scientist Paul Edwards.

The programme is now in its fourth year, and is being reviewed to assess how it can be improved.

"We're having a fresh look to see if this is the right way to deliver the programme," Leach said.

He said the programme was supported by a website. "But there's nothing like doing the programme. [Participants] use the website to refresh the things you've learned."

DairyNZ had anecdotal evidence that participants in Milksmart had reduced milking times by 45 minutes, Leach said.

Many had introduced new ergonomic measures like altering rail heights, providing matting and changing cupping techniques to improve milker comfort, and changing cow flow or shed design to reduce herd lameness.

"The whole concept of Milksmart is about practical, cost-effective measures to make milking more efficient."

Milking - from getting cows to the cowshed and back to a paddock - used 60 per cent of the labour on a dairy farm, he said, and any efficiencies that could be introduced gave farmers and their staff more time to do other work on the farm, spend with their families or pursue hobbies.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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