Organic farm pioneers voluntary milking system
Robotic or voluntary milking systems, where the cows choose for themselves when they want to be milked and the whole job is done by a computerised machine, are still as rare as tits on a bull in New Zealand.
Heritage Farm, a certified organic dairy farm at Karaka, just south of Auckland, was the first farm in New Zealand to install a DeLaval Voluntary Milking System.
Early adopters David and Cathy Yates, who own and run Heritage Farm with their son Brian, are really pleased with their move to computerised milking. They have now had two and a half years’ experience with the system and say that its benefits go way beyond not having to spend hours in the milking shed every day putting on and taking off teat cups. They include improved animal health and welfare, and better pasture and feed management – all made possible by the quantity and quality of the data that the system provides, along with doing the manual work of milking.
So how do you get cows to milk themselves? A photo essay on the Heritage Farm voluntary milking system and how it works can be seen on the Organic Dairy and Pastoral Group website (see organicpastoral.co.nz/Our+Farms.html). It shows the whole process from both the cow and farmer perspectives.