Friday, 24 January 2020 10:19

Do you need an upgrade?

Written by  Staff Reporters

Dairy infrastructure can have a major impact on milking efficiency and the comfort of cows and milkers, says DairyNZ.

Upgrading an existing dairy or installing a new dairy are big projects that often require a large outlay.

A decision to change the dairy should be based on a genuine need for improved infrastructure. It should be financially viable and support the achievement of the farm’s goals.

It says generally, a change in the milk harvesting system cannot be assessed in isolation from the rest of the farm business. A major upgrade or a new dairy is not ‘just a shed’ but has implications for the whole farm system.

Ask yourself - is it time for an upgrade?

The motivation for undertaking a major change may come from a number of sources such as:

• Current system may be working well but may be too small to cope with future goals i.e. milking more cows, employing more or less labour.

• Current system may not be working well i.e. the milker is idle or flat out, dairy is too cramped, or it takes too long to milk. In this case it is possible that the extra capacity released by the increased efficiency of a new set up could be used to help generate funds to pay for the investment.

Sometimes the motivation for change may be a combination of both - for example, milking may be taking too long and extra income may be needed to cover increasing expenses.

Other reasons for seeking changes include the desire to improve the working environment to get benefits like:

• Reduced OSH risks.

• Improved attitudes to the milking job and farming in general.

• More time to spend on management tasks or being able to attract (and keep) high calibre staff to take over the day-to-day operational tasks.

Is it time for an upgrade?

Upgrading goals

It is important to be very clear about what is motivating the desire for a change and to have a focused picture of the farm goals.

If the primary goal is to increase disposable income there may be other ways to achieve this without undertaking a major building project.

Not all of a farmer’s goals will be financially motivated but every decision made on the farm has a financial implication.

The implications of building a new dairy need to be analysed from many different angles so the risks of financial failure are kept to a minimum and financial targets are reached.

General considerations

• Will the change be an upgrade or a whole new dairy?

• Will more cows be required to make an investment in a new dairy feasible?

• If extra cows are required, what will the impact be on the herd, feed, management, labour, infrastructure and debt?

• Make sure that all additional costs associated with a new dairy are taken into consideration when doing budgets and plans. 

These costs can have a major impact on the financial viability of a project e.g. will the existing infrastructure meet requirements of an expanded herd (effluent, fencing, laneways and water)?

Infrastructure checklist

Checking that all necessary elements have been included before seeking quotes will mean quotes need be sought once only. Sending a single set of requirements to all suppliers also ensures they are all quoting on the same job, allowing meaningful comparisons to be made between quotes.

MPI and your milk company have strict requirements around dairy infrastructure relating to milk quality and milk collection. Before beginning any construction or changes, consult your milk company.

Summary

All dairy farmers should base their decisions on clearly defined personal and business goals. If you haven’t already defined goals for your farm business, make it a priority.

When planning a new dairy it makes sense to draw up a wish list first. This initial planning is the first step in sorting out priorities. Once the ‘must have’ priorities have emerged, financial analysis of the cost implications can begin.

Decisions on upgrades need to be analysed in terms of the impact proposed changes will make to milker and cow comfort - some things may be worth paying more for.

Building a new dairy is a big undertaking. Most farmers are not project engineers and have plenty of other work to do on the farm. A project manager is a valuable asset on many dairy construction projects, however it is important to ensure yours is reputable and experienced in all aspects of dairy builds. It is their responsibility to make sure that things happen on time and the desired result is achieved. Also make sure you employ a builder with experience in dairy construction.

Visit other farmer’s dairies, preferably during milking, for ideas and feedback on the performance of different products.

More like this

Living the dream on farm

DairyNZ board candidate Cole Groves says he is “living the dream” as a dairy farmer, milking just over 400 cows near Hinds in Mid-Canterbury.

Strategy to reduce heifer mastitis

First calvers are more prone to mastitis than older cows. According to DairyNZ, farmers must choose a strategy that best suits their herd, farm team, and budget.

DairyNZ's election wishlist

DairyNZ has released its ten policy priorities for the 2020 election and its The View from the Cow Shed report which provides policymakers with insight from the farm.

Featured

 

Stop making decisions for farmers

OPINION: From my observations of general media reporting it seems that in today’s world no one wants to take responsibility for their actions.

National

Effluent expo canned

The Effluent & Environment Expo, scheduled for early November in Hamilton, has been cancelled.

Fonterra back in the black

Fonterra chief executive Miles Hurrell says 2019/20 was a good year for the co-op, with profit up, debt down and…

Machinery & Products

Clear cut fodder

CLAAS Harvest Centre product manager, Luke Wheeler, says the end goal should always be the starting point when making purchasing…

Good mower an essential tool

Third-generation dairy farmers Hayden and Tania Edmeades run 500 dairy cows and associated young stock over 190ha near Putararu in…

Mowers get a makeover

Well known throughout New Zealand over the past 18 years, Pottinger has redesigned its rear-mounted Novadisc mowers to incorporate a…

Hardy spotlight

High quality, reliable lighting is essential for anyone involved in agriculture or the great outdoors.

» The RNG Weather Report

» Latest Print Issues Online

Milking It

Eyes have it

OPINION: Painting eyes on the backsides of cows could save their lives, according to new research by Australian scientists.

Walkers versus cows

OPINION: A North Yorkshire teacher has become at least the second member of the public to be trampled to death…

» Connect with Dairy News

» eNewsletter

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter