Dairy firm growing from year to year
IT’S hard to miss the Dairymaster site as you head out of Causeway in northwest Kerr y. The gleaming t hree storey building is about the only thing to be seen on the road.
It was from a small shed in the same corner of the field that now accommodates a sprawling 11.5ac factory where Ned Harty started out on his career in milking equipment.
“I wasn’t the eldest son so I didn’t get the farm and I knew that I’d have to come up with something to keep myself going,” recalls Mr Harty of that time nearly 50 years ago.
He started out bending steel pipes into cubicles but he was always fascinated with trying to make things that were that little bit better. And so it was that Mr Harty took one of the stainless steel teat cups from his brother’s parlour one day to improve it.
“Back then they were all made with the valve inlet down along the side, where it was prone to being broken and generally got in the way,” explains Mr Harty. Instead, he moved the value up to the top of the cup. A simple move that almost anyone could have thought have. “But they didn’t,” smiles Mr Harty. “And now they all do.”
Endless testing and incremental improvements in how the cluster worked cameover the following decades.
The company’s claim to fame now is that their clusters milk cows 5pc faster than their main competition, American giant Delaval.
“We were being told that the vacuum in other machines was adequate on average during the pulsation cycle,” remembers Ned’s son Edmond, who is now CEO. “But this is the flaw of averages. Even if a river is 4ft deep on average across its width, that doesn’t mean it won’t be double that when you get to the middle.”
The Hartys were convinced that simply increasing suction to try and deal with the huge issue of liner slip was not good enough.
They believe they now have the best balance of suction levels and pulsation.
“Look, if we weren’t any better than the competition, farmers around the world would simply have no reason to even let us in the gate. The milking parlour is probably the most important structural investment a dairy farmer makes. He’s getting into bed with a company for a minimum of 20 years, investing something like €100,000, and probably going to spend a significant chunk of his life in there. It’s a marriage of sorts,” said Edmond. And with Dairymaster parlours now installed everywhere from the -40C environs of Siberia to the sweltering plains of Texas, and everywhere in between, it looks like farmers are being won over by the Harty’s claims.
In Germany alone, they now have 25pc of all new parlour installations and more than 40pc of new rotary set-ups. Newer innovations are also gaining worldwide acceptance. The company has teamed up with America’s biggest breeding firm, Select Sires, to market their heat detection aid, the Moo Monitor.
The cluster cleaning system (Cluster Cleanse) “virtually eliminates” staphylococcus and strepto-coccus infections in cows milking quarters, helping farmers control overall SCC levels in the herd.
Dairymaster has also seen a huge growth in sales of bulk tanks, which they claim are up to 25pc more energy efficient than many standard tanks. The firm is now selling up to 400 of these a year.
And the milking machine maestros are also upbeat about the prospects.
“I think the sky’s the limit,” said Ned Harty. “I think there’s a great future there for farmers.”
OPERATION: Aerial view of Dairymaster, Causeway, Co Kerry; Below, Dr Edmund Harty and Ned Harty INNOVATIVE: These days much of Dairymaster's R&D effort is going into designing apps for smart phones for remotely controlling tasks such as heat detection and drafting, but it all started with a simple modification to a milk cup by Ned Harty