Dairy firm grow­ing from year to year

Irish Independent - Farming - - Interview -

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.”

BAL­ANCE

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

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