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Milking Over 300 Cows in Just 60 minutes
19/12/07

The ability to milk over 300 cows an hour is the result of a new milking plant installation at Grove Dairy Farm in Castlederg, Ireland.

Good parlour design enables over 300 cows to be milked in less than an hour at Grove Dairy Farm.

The new parlour at Grove Dairy Farm

Since completing his studies at Greenmount Agricultural College, Antrim three years ago, John Mitchell has taken over the management of the family owned dairy farm, while his sister, Lisa Surphlis, is responsible for processing and packaging milk that comes not only from the 350 strong Grove Farm herd, but also from their uncle’s 300 cow herd. And the business is growing so rapidly that additional balancing litres are being supplied by the local, Town of Monaghan cooperative.

With a growing business to take care of and a firm commitment to carry on farming, John knew that he had to make the right parlour choice when it came to keeping the farm on course for the future.

“During my year out from college, I worked on farms in New Zealand and Australia and milked in parlours ranging from herringbones to rotaries. Although I didn’t realise it at the time, I was ideally placed to research what was best in the world of parlours,” comments John.

So, with this invaluable experienced duly gained, installation of a new Fullwood herringbone parlour commenced on a new site in October 2006. This decision has proved to be the right one to make – John’s positive outlook on life and strong work ethic mean that he believes in doing things the right way first time: “I’ve always believed if you want something to succeed you must work at it and keep going. Standing still isn’t an option as you will fall behind.”

The parlour John chose for Grove Dairy Farm is a Fullwood 60:60 50o herringbone with automatic identification at each cow standing. Three-way cow segregation is also fitted along with the Crystal heat detection system, which enables animals to be observed automatically and handled accordingly. The parlour is also fitted with stainless steel cabinets which enclose the milking equipment to ensure that hygiene standards and maintenance are uncompromised.

The design of the parlour is all important as John explains: “Cow flow is in my opinion, the secret to good milk flow. The parlour is well lit, efficient and ultimately effective from both time and money perspectives. The well planned space means that easy entrance and exit access has been built into the area.” It is that set up and attention to detail that allows John and his staff to move more than 300 cows through the parlour in as little as 60 minutes – a speed of throughput that is often only associated with some of the larger rotary parlours.

John adds, “The meters are safe within the cabinets which means that we can wash down the system without any worries of water damage or corrosion. And we found the parlour really easy to use from the start. The design means low maintenance, high performance and a saving of 50% on labour time. Now we have an extra hour and a half for other activities.”

With two other full time workers on the farm, John shares a couple of rotas per head between four relief milkers each week. “The importance of installing the right parlour, aside from ease of use, is sometimes an overlooked aspect of your working environment. No matter which job you choose, should it be office based or on a farm, you want your working environment to add to the job in hand, not detract from it: 365 days per year in a parlour demands a high standard. In short, I would not expect someone to work in surroundings I would not work.”

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