With this 107-hectare Mowbray Road dairy block nestled under the Kaimai-Mamaku Ranges, 7km north of Matamata, Dave and Julie Davis are enjoying their second season, being one of two W.A. Hedley Estate farms they share-milk on.
Having already made some significant improvements to the farm since their arrival in 2018, they retrofitted the original 40-year-old, 28-bail rotary parlour with GEA Classic 300E clusters, plus GEA Intelligent Cluster Removers (iCR’s), to improve reliability and efficiency at milking time. “We did quite a few changes to it, to nurse it through the year. GEA service partner Milk ‘n’ Water Services were helpful with making it simpler and better” explains Dave. “It was a difficult plant and we wanted to stay grade-free and have a season without any troubles. It wasn’t a long-term solution, as the shed still had problems.”
“In conjunction with the farm owners, we decided building a herringbone was the most cost effective in the long term, with minimal maintenance required as the years go by.” states Dave. At the beginning of the 2019 season a new 44 cluster GEA iXPRESS Herringbone milking parlour was commissioned, replacing the rotary.
“We had no hesitation in using Milk ‘n’ Water Services as they were excellent in helping us with the old rotary last year. The work they did to improve the rotary from a milk quality and milking comfort perspective was enough to convince me that these guys should work on our new shed. And it was the right decision - they’ve been great.”
With GEA Classic 300E clusters designed to suit the modern, high yielding cow and rated as one of the best available on the market, they come standard on installation of any GEA iXPRESS parlour. With closer positioning of the short milk tubes the cluster provides a perfect fit for the rear udder quarters of the cows. The flow-promoting design supports rapid removal of the milk without any detours or restrictions to flow. The modular design means the clusters can be adapted to different udder shapes. “I like the clusters. We noticed the difference in weight, they’re nice and light. They’re also a bit wider at the front.” says Dave.
Going from a Rotary to a Herringbone parlour, GEA’s iNTELARM+ swing arms naturally took a while to get used to for Dave and his two staff. “It doesn’t make the milking any slower, just different. There’s less weight on you when you swing them over and they hold onto the cow nicely.
With cluster alignment top of mind, the iXPRESS ensures alignment is perfect each and every time, with the help of the newly develop iNTELARM+. Ensuring a clean and even milk out for the cow and less liner slips as a result. Attached to each cluster the iNTELARM+ provides true a-symmetry in cup alignment and effectively guides the cluster from side-to-side – clearing the working area for the operator.
“All in all, it’s a good, long-lasting plant…it’s good gear too. A lot of the equipment has been manufactured in New Zealand.”
For Dave and Julie, the main goal of the new Herringbone parlour was to make life easier for Dave and their staff. “It’s about someone starting farming and remaining farming for 40 years - and enjoying it. I guess that’s what we’re trying to do here. It’s a good shed for people to do the odd milking on their own if they have to and we have the ability to add the walkover teat sprayer in the future, which will help with that too.
“We are enjoying the challenge of a new farm and seeing where we can take it. It’s a bit of a shock for the cows going from a rotary to a herringbone but they’re starting to flow nicely now and feeding meal in the shed really helps. The new shed means that we have the option to milk more cows in the future, and who knows where the future will take this farm – but whatever that may be, there is a dairy parlour capable of milking larger cow numbers.”
See what other farmers have to say about the iXPRESS Herringbone milking parlour. Graeme Edwards installed a 26-milking point iXPRESS4 in a new milking parlor, designed to be the hub of a farm he’d reconfigured for better efficiency.