His­tory of milk­ing cows in New Zealand

Horowhenua Chronicle - - NEWS -

It’s no se­cret that in­ven­tive­ness and in­ge­nu­ity are stim­u­lated by dif­fi­culty. An­cient Greek philoso­pher Plato knew it, and so did the me­di­ae­val English who were fond of say­ing ‘need taught him wit’.

New Zealand’s world-fa­mous dairy sec­tor ef­fec­tively had its be­gin­nings in 1814 when mis­sion­ary Sa­muel Marsden landed the first milk­ing cows (and a breed­ing bull).

From those early colo­nial days when the milk­ing cow would be tied up on a rough piece of cleared land with the farmer or his wife, crouch­ing or sit­ting to squeeze the milk by hand into a bucket, this coun­try has been a leader in farm­ing in­no­va­tion, much of it driven by ne­ces­sity.

It’s 100 years since Kiwi sol­diers, hav­ing fought for King and coun­try in World War I, re­turned to New Zealand and turned their hands to farm­ing thanks to the ‘sol­dier-set­tler’ scheme. To hon­our their de­ter­mi­na­tion, hard graft, and No 8 wire in­ge­nu­ity, DairyNZ has cu­rated this pic­to­rial col­lec­tion show­ing some of the im­por­tant in­no­va­tions from the early 1900s to to­day when dairy farm­ers can, quite lit­er­ally, herd their cows us­ing a mo­bile phone app.

The un­sung hero of New Zealand dairy­ing is a Wairarapa dairy farmer, Nor­man Daysh, the in­ven­tor of the vac­uum pump milk­ing ma­chine that rev­o­lu­tionised the dairy in­dus­try. He ex­per­i­mented with early ma­chines on a cow, Daisy, in his Wairarapa farm­house kitchen.

Nor­man Daysh se­cured more than 20 patents for his ma­chine be­fore trav­el­ling from Wairarapa to New York in 1913 in the hope of find­ing a global com­pany in­ter­ested in help­ing him per­fect the ma­chine he had de­signed.

In New York, the DeLaval com­pany recog­nised the po­ten­tial of Nor­man’s ma­chine and his in­no­va­tive spirit. To­gether they fine-tuned the ma­chine, and then in 1917, launched it to the world. The world never looked back.

The her­ring­bone dairy con­fig­u­ra­tion (1952) and then the ro­tary dairy (1969) were also de­signed by Kiwi farm­ers keen to put be­hind them the back­break­ing busi­ness of stoop­ing to milk, and the time-con­sum­ing busi­ness of mov­ing cows in and out of the shed that ex­isted with walk-through dairies. Their de­signs are still pop­u­lar in New Zealand and around the world.

New Zealand is the leader in most ar­eas of dairy — from ef­fi­cient milk­ing and yard sys­tems, and prof­itable graz­ing sys­tems us­ing spe­cially bred grasses, to cows that are so su­pe­rior that even Queen El­iz­a­beth ap­proves (hav­ing a long-term con­nec­tion with the Waikato based Fer­gu­son dairy farm­ing fam­ily and their Fer­don Ge­net­ics), ef­flu­ent man­age­ment sys­tems, and ri­par­ian plant­ing along fenced wa­ter­ways to lower the en­vi­ron­men­tal foot­print; or in dairy pro­cess­ing and prod­ucts … What’s a pizza with­out moz­zarella, es­pe­cially moz­zarella pro­duced at one plant alone in Can­ter­bury which pro­duces enough cheese to top 500 mil­lion piz­zas a year.

■ Story and pho­tos from: www.dairynznewslink.co.nz/

Early milk­ing ma­chines were con­sid­ered by some to be more trou­ble than they were worth.

Be­fore the ad­vent of milk­ing ma­chines, milk­ing dairy cows was a back break­ing, time con­sum­ing task.

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