Bluemont Dairy is 495ha, milking off 430ha. Part of the farm (170ha) is irrigated. Running at a moderate stocking rate, they work on 460-480kgMS per cow.
The feeding system is pasture-based, with the cows feeding on ryegrass clover for most of the year. They are only supplemented with grain in shoulder periods, for example during early and late lactation, when grass growth is in decline.Going into its second dairy season, John’s intention was to double the Bluemont Dairy milking herd from 450 to 900 cows. With that, he needed to upgrade the milking shed.
“Last season the team milked 450 cows through the original farm dairy shed. Situated on one corner of the property, it was a long way from a lot of the land resource and completely inefficient” he explains. “Milking 900 cows is a significant increase for the team, so better milking efficiency is key to succeeding.” The new shed was built central to the rest of the farm and, based on prior experience, John chose to install the GEA iFLOW. “Once you have a good experience, you’re pretty reluctant to change” he says. “That’s been my experience with GEA.”
Labour efficiency was his first consideration. “We expect to milk double the number of cows with the same number of staff” says John. “We’ve been running about 200 cows per labour unit (through the old shed). Based on what we’ve achieved with other iFLOW systems, I expect to see a significant reduction in milking times here. We’ll be able to milk 300-350 cows per person per hour.” The iFLOW is set up as a one-man operation.
Reliability was important for John, too. “We don’t want to be spending time fixing things after each milking. Often the platform is the weakest link when you’re putting large herds through a shed. I particularly like GEA’s I-beam system with the rollers.” The iFLOW Rotary Platform is popular internationally for its longevity in challenging environments. The platform consists of a reinforced concrete deck on a raised plinth. The milking machine is mounted under the platform, so it’s physically protected and easily accessible for maintenance.
Under the platform is a subway roller carriage system. Heavy-duty nylon rollers run between the upper and lower steel (I) beams, with tensioners distributed evenly to maintain correct roller alignment. One roller every 600mm ensures an even distribution of the platform weight, plus a whole lot less wear and tear or maintenance issues compared to ‘steel on steel’ systems. Effectively, it is one large bearing, designed for simple maintenance and superior reliability. “At the end of the day we need to produce a quality milk product. We can only do that with an efficient and reliable system” John continues.
“To me, the GEA iFLOW is value for money. The platform and the milking system is built by GEA New Zealand. It’s compact, easily transported and easy to install. And, it comes with good backup. “I’ve had very good service from GEA, from both our GEA sales rep and our local GEA dealer. They know what type of dairy operation I’m looking to run and they provide good options and competitive pricing. They’re very focused on timelines and quality, which is exactly what I’m looking for in these dairy conversion situations. "For anyone looking to upgrade a dairy shed for better efficiency, I recommend the GEA iFLOW."