A&R Merrett, Stroud

Merrett1With a 10/10 DeLaval Auto Tandem parlour milking 60 cows, A & R Merrett’s dairy farmnear Stroud is a smaller operation so efficiency is particularly important. Their parlour, which was installed in April 2011, is fitted with AirWash Plus which has speeded up the milking considerably, thus saving money as well as time.

The Merretts believe that AirWash Plus is perfect for a tandem parlour and are very pleased with the aftercare and fast response provided by their local dealer, T H WHITE.

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Nick Helyer, Little Langford, Wilts

HelyerNick Helyer has been managing his 1,425-acre farm at Little Langford near Wilton since 1965, when he took it over from his father who had worked the farm since 1941. After more than 50 years as a dairyman, there’s not much Nick doesn’t know about cattle, milk yields and the efficient running of his farm.

AirWash Plus, however, is a development that even took Nick by surprise. Milking 200 cows twice a day he has been able to reduce his milking time by an hour as well as seing significant drops in somatic cell counts, mastitis and Bactoscan readings.

Overall, Nick sees the installation of AirWash Plus at Little Langford as a great success.

Neston Park Farm

Neston1“In organic dairy farming it’s important to address health issues before they even arise.” So says Paul Redmore, Farm Manager at Neston Park Farm in Wiltshire where the 300-strong Jersey herd produces top quality milk which is processed locally, mostly into cream and butter, to be sold under the Ivy House Farm label in many premier stores including Fortnum & Masons, Harrods and Selfridges.

The Neston estate has been in the hands of the Fuller family – famous for their participation in the Fuller, Smith and Turner brewery in London – since 1790 when John Fuller built Neston House there. In 1910 John Michael Fuller MP was created a baronet and, in 1998, the present owner Sir James Fuller became the fourth baronet. Like generations before him, he has continued to develop the Home Farm, which in 1999 was certified organic by the Soil Association.

Today, cereals grown organically on the 1,400-acre farm are used to feed the dairy herd, while beef cattle and lambs are also reared on Neston’s pastures.

The economics of organic farming led to the decision in 2014 to double the size of the dairy herd, which in turn placed extra demands on the milking parlour. “We knew we would have to install a larger parlour in due course,” said Paul, “but in the short term we needed to maximise efficiency as well as being scrupulous in the control of cleanliness and potential cross-infection.

Neston2“That got us thinking about installing a modern dip and rinse system, so we went to the dairy team at T H WHITE. They showed us the AirWash Plus system which not only has an outstanding track record in improving hygiene, but uniquely can be fitted to any cluster with any liner. An added bonus for us was the ability to transfer the system from the parlour we had then to our new parlour when it was ready.”

So it was, two years ago, that AirWash Plus was installed in the old milking parlour at Neston Park Farm. “The difference was almost immediate; cell counts dropped from almost 300 to between 150 and 180 and the incidence of mastitis was greatly reduced as well. Not only that, but we saved about 15 minutes on every milking by not having to dip the teats manually – a genuine gain.”

Earlier this year T H WHITE completed the installation of a brand new 24/24 DeLaval milking parlour at Neston with a full Delpro computer system and smaller stalls to suit the Jersey cows. As planned, the AirWash Plus equipment was transferred from the old parlour and expanded to serve the additional clusters.

“The new parlour is superb – very open and airy which makes the cows much more relaxed,” Paul added. “I’m really impressed with the job T H WHITE did, everything was correct with no corner cutting; all-in-all a nice, tidy job.”

Temple House Farm

TempleHouseFarmTemple House Farm sits on the Mendips near Shepton Mallet. The Reakes family have been farming here since 1929 and Simon and Ben Reakes are the fourth generation, working today with their father Roger who still milks every afternoon.

They take pride in the business they have built up and the high standards they have always applied to managing their herd, now of 160 cows. There’s not much that Roger doesn’t know about the dairy business, so it’s easy to imagine just how frustrating and upsetting it was when, for no obvious reason the cell counts in the milk they produced were consistently high and mastitis cases on the farm were rising.

“It was a mystery,” said Roger. “Hygiene in the parlour appeared to be good and we thought it must be down to an environmental factor such as the bedding conditions. We called in the vet who identified high incidences of strep uberis and we tried almost everything we could think of to get it under control over a period of about two years.

“I have to admit that I was the one who dug my heels in when it came to making fundamental changes in the way we worked. Simon had suggested quite early on that we should think about putting in a dip and rinse system, but I couldn’t see why we would need it as the dairy had good hygiene standards.”

Eventually the Reakes’ contacted T H WHITE who had installed their 24/24 DeLaval parlour some eight years previously and a demonstration of the AirWash Plus system was set up.

“After seeing it in action we managed to persuade dad to go for it,” said Simon, “and it proved to be one of the best decisions we’ve ever made. Having consistently had cell counts of 200-plus, within 8-10 weeks of installing AirWash Plus they had dropped right down to 99 and are now averaging around 150. Not only that, but the number of mastitis cases were reduced by over 50 per cent.

“Our bactoscan also dropped from 30-40 and is now just 10-15 – the cluster liners really are sqeaky-clean! Clearly the AirWash Plus is not only cleaning but also preventing cross-infection between animals. Using just 10ml of teat dip per cow it’s economical too.

“Based on the saved cost of mastitis cases alone we expect to achieve pay-back on the AirWash Plus system in 2½ to 3 years.”

Roger Reakes is the first to say the farm should have installed dip and rinse sooner, but then it’s easy to be wise after the event. “Perhaps the best thing,” he says, “would be to talk to other farmers you can trust. Almost everyone has been through similar problems at some time in the past and there’s a tremendous knowledge base out there. We would certainly be happy to talk to any dairy farmers about the benefits of dip and rinse.”

A J Langley & Son, near Bath

Langley1When replacing an old milking parlour that had been in use since 1975, the Langleys went for a Rolls-Royce package comprising a DeLaval 28/28 herringbone parlour with an auto-identify system, auto segregation, auto activity monitoring, auto plant washer, footbath, vari-speed vacuum pump and a heat recovery system, all house in a new purpose-built structure. AirWash Plus completed the installation, fitted directly to the DeLaval clusters, and it has already proved to be an important factor in mastitis control among the herd of 180 Fresians.

“We are seeing a maximum of one case of mastitis a week,” said Phil Langley, “as well as a drop in somatic cell counts. Milking with AirWash Plus is now a lot easier and quicker.”

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First MOS in the UK unlocks one-man operation for rotary parlour

WrightsMOS 1Remarkably, when Alastair Wright’s father moved into Gore Lane Farm in coronation year, 1953, the farm’s livestock comprised just 14 tethered cows. The number was soon expanded to around 40 but that was still a far cry from today’s herd of 250.

Alastair and his son James now have plans that could potentially double the number of cows again. “Some time ago we acknowledged that the best way forward in this competitive market would be to increase cow numbers and milk yields,” said Alastair. “We also knew that would have to be done without a significant increase in labour, at least in the early stages.”

What that meant in real terms was designing a system that would allow milking to be carried out efficiently by a single operative, while also being capable of handling additional cows and an extra man milking as the herd grows. Although increasing milk yields is a key factor in the Wright’s expansion plans, they were also determined that there should be no sacrifice of their high production standards. In recent years their farm on Wiltshire’s sweeping downland at Baydon has been contracted to produce milk for Sainsburys through Dairy Crest, and the Wrights pride themselves in meeting and exceeding the demanding standards of these major customers.

Alastair and James considered the challenge in detail and James came down strongly in favour of a rotary milking parlour. “Installing a rotary is highly unusual for a herd of our size, but I could see that it answered the requirements,” said James. “It would have the capacity we will need going forward and it meant that we would be able to milk the cows three times a day.

WrightsMOS 2“Most importantly, the system would be able to be operated by one man. To make that work we also needed to incorporate a high performance dip and rinse system, as well as a control and monitoring system that would enable the operator to track any problems such as clusters becoming detached out of his view.”

Whilst providing what the farm potentially needed for the future, the new installation would clearly require a substantial investment, so James compiled a proposal and specification that he and his father then analysed in detail. In due course the decision was made to go ahead and the Wrights approached T H WHITE regarding the design and installation.

The system chosen is based on a 44-stall DeLaval rotary parlour incorporating not only the advanced AirWash Plus dip and rinse system, but also DeLaval’s new Milking Observation Screen (MOS). This unit is the first of its kind to be installed in the UK, and as well as alerting the operator to any problems he may not be able to see, it provides detailed information on each cow and her milking performance.

Once the design was complete, work started on the building to house the new parlour, collecting yard and handling facilities. Forward thinking was the order of the day here too and the opportunity was taken to commission the T H WHITE Energy Division to install solar panels on the roof during the construction phase.

“Our intention was to generate a large proportion of the electricity needed to run the parlour,” said Alastair. “This 47kWp installation doesn’t quite cover the entire energy consumption, but it’s a great start that could be expanded in the future.”

At the first milking in the new parlour James was interested to see how the cows would adapt: “As you might expect, some of them were reluctant at first, but once they saw others entering the rotary stalls they soon realised that this could be enjoyable. Now, if we let them, they would happily continue going round – literally until the cows come home!

“Of course, if the MOS shows us that a cow is milking well and has not finished after one revolution, we have the ability from the control panel to retain her for a second rotation which will take about 8-10 minutes. Usually, however, the cows are gently encouraged to leave the stall after one rotation by a light spray of water on the nose.

“Since we have been milking in the new parlour with AirWash Plus we have seen an improvement in mastitis rates, cell counts of 90 and a bactoscan of 10/12. That’s a trend that confirms the choices we made were the right ones. Another real bonus of the new parlour is that we can now milk three times a day which relieves stress in the cows and improves the yields.”

The Wrights are dairy farmers with a clear vision of their market, where they want to be in it and how they can achieve that. T H WHITE is proud to be playing a part in their journey.

Moreton Valence Farm, Gloucestershire

Warren1Since installing AirWash Plus in the 50-point DeLaval rotary milking parlour, Moreton Valence Farm has been able to save a herdsperson’s wages as the demands placed on staff have been reduced.

Out of the herd of 420, about 370 cows are usually being miklked and with AirWash Plus the incidence of mastitis has been brought down to just over two cases a week. Somatic cell counts have also dropped from 135 to 110 and Bactoscan is 14-15.

All in all, a big improvement in quality and cost control.

C & J Crossman, Warminster

Crossman2The Crossmans were previously manually spraying their cows, but with 300 animals being milked twice a day in the DeLaval 16/32 Swing-Over parlour, it was a slow process. The addition of AirWash Plus has brought great efficiencies, cutting the milking time and maintaining low somatic cell counts and Bactoscan readings. They are using Film Utile dip as it shows up well on the teats and is completely bio-degradable.