Or­ganic farm pi­o­neers vol­un­tary milk­ing sys­tem

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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.

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