Servicing and Maintenance
01 Nov 2018
01 Oct 2018
03 Sep 2018
01 Mar 2018
01 Feb 2018
01 Feb 2018
01 Jan 2017
04 Nov 2016
04 Jul 2016
26 Apr 2016
01 Nov 2018
T H WHITE put on a strong showing at the 2018 Dairy Show in October for both Case IH and New Holland, together with the wide variety of equipment brands offered by our Agriculture and Dairy divisions.
A real eye-catcher on Avenue B at the Bath & West Showground was the gleaming line of red Case IH tractors, ranging from the compact Farmall to a mighty 200hp Puma. Impressive stuff, with a tractor to meet every need, but for many farmers the stand-out tractor was the Case IH Maxxum 145 with ActiveDrive 8 transmission. This new semi-powershift transmission offers eight powershift steps in each of three ranges, providing a total of 24 speeds in both forward and reverse, and is available on all Maxxum Multicontroller models.
Covering speeds up to 10.2 km/h, Range One is specifically designed for heavier draft work. Range Two, the main working range, covers nearly 90 per cent of all field, grassland and loader application requirements, allowing the tractor to work under full load, without any torque disruption, from 1.6-18.1 km/h.
For road travel, the transmission is designed to start in Range Three, and a skip-shift function then allows quick progress through the powershift speeds. An auto-shift feature means the tractor can be set to progress automatically through any set of eight speeds in the field, and through all 16 gears in the top two ranges on the road. A pedal kick-down function can be used to impose a manual downshift.
A clutch pedal is not required, meaning this transmission is suited to power-hungry tasks where momentum is important, such as cultivations or mowing with twin or triple mowers.
To try a Case IH tractor for yourself, just call Rob Iddeson on 01264 811260.
01 Oct 2018
The latest-generation rotary milking system from DeLaval, the E100, is not just a rotary, but a full system with more information, more automation, more functions and more technology than ever before. Above all, it has been designed so that one person can operate everything safely, comfortably and easily, from a central point.
Building on years of experience with rotary milking systems, DeLaval has designed the new E100 to create a better, safer, calmer and more productive experience for you, your cows and anyone who works on your farm.
Featuring easy entry and easy exit for cows, TopFlow clusters that can milk up to 15 litres per minute, plus DeLaval’s special design of comfort bail, the Rotary E100 is operated from a ‘cockpit’ where all aspects can be monitored and controlled via the DelPro platform and touch-screen.
Unique to the E100, the ComfortBail is fundamental to maintaining efficiency as well as a calm milking environment for the cow. All the necessary wires, pipes and technology are integrated within the bail, thus ensuring clearer lines of visibility for worker and cow, easier, safer access for the milker, and a more consistent approach to the task of getting cows on, milked and gone, quickly and without stress. The design also ensures that the cows present ready for milking in a position that makes attachment faster and simpler, while four individual teat spray nozzles provide accurate coverage seconds after cluster removal.
DeLaval’s FastLane entry bridge ensures that the cows move as quickly, calmly and efficiently as possible, enabling the operator to select either single cow entry or a one and a half cow entry lane to optimise the number of cows per hour of milking. The wide exit lane incorporates a funnel enabling multiple cows to exit the milking parlour, thus reducing the number of inactive milking points and increasing throughput without creating platform stoppages.
With herd sizes increasing, it all adds up to milking more cows more efficiently with fewer labour hours and less hassle.
T H WHITE can not only supply and install the new DeLaval E100 – plus a building and all associated works to house it in if required – but once it’s in production we can provide all the support and service you will need to maximise the profitability of your dairy operation.
Get all the facts by calling any of our Dairy branches, or talk to T H WHITE Dairy Manager Nigel Ellis on 01373 465941, email email@example.com.
03 Sep 2018
Success in the challenging dairy farming sector relies increasingly on new technologies to maximise milk yield, herd health and profitability. The latest innovations from DeLaval, the pioneer and market leader in dairy automation, will now help farmers to achieve more than ever before.
Topping the list of DeLaval’s new introductions are the OptiDuo robotic feed pusher, the new V300 Voluntary Milking System (VMS), plus the latest software to help you manage and control your dairy business, even when you are on the move.
OptiDuo feed pusher
The first DeLaval OptiDuo in the UK has been supplied by T H WHITE and commissioned at Oldbury Farm near Frampton on Severn, Gloucestershire, where David Merrett has a herd of 125 cows.
The OptiDuo is a new robotic feed pusher with a twin-spiralled rotating auger which allows feed to be remixed and repositioned without damaging or crushing the roughage and then pushes it closer to the feeding rail, giving the cows constant access to the refreshed feed.
Following a guidance cable buried in the yard surface, the OptiDuo can be programmed to work around the clock, meaning that cows have access to feed 24 hours a day. This allows heifers and lower ranked cows the same opportunity to feed, with less stress and competition from dominant cows in the herd, which in turn leads to higher intakes and more milk in the tank. Different settings can be made for different groups, for example lactating cow feed or youngstock feed.
DeLaval calculates that with the OptiDuo feed intake can be increased by up to 10 per cent with less wastage, providing the cows with a well-mixed diet to help to ensure maximum dry matter intake and minimise feed sorting. The cows can then spend more time resting and ruminating.
When the DeLaval Voluntary Milking System (VMS) first appeared 20 years ago it revolutionised the way in which dairy farmers could manage their business. Allowing cows to be milked as and when they want, at the same time monitoring the milking cycle for each animal, its health and the yield, meant that very close herd control could be exercised, at the same time freeing the farmer and his employees from the rigours of set milking times to enjoy more normal working hours and a better family life.
Since then DeLaval has continually developed, modified and improved its VMS, adding the OCC cell counting system, Herd Navigator software and a new model in 2015 including the Body Condition Scoring (BCS) camera.
Now we have the new DeLaval VMS V300 incorporating a host of improvements that will enable farmers to do more with less. At the heart of the system is the milking arm – which in many ways replicates actions of the human arm. New software and the highest ever quality camera assess the best and most accurate way to attach the teat cups. The system learns and adapts to each individual udder, memorising the settings and resulting in attachment rates of 99.8 per cent, taking away the need to teach the machine manually with the entry of each new cow.
Attachment of teat cups is 50 per cent faster than the previous model, milking capacity is up by 10 per cent to a potential 3,500kg of milk a day, yet running costs are lower. The integrated DeLaval InSight system is able to find the teat fast and accurately, giving the cow a stress-free and relaxed experience.
A major advance is in teat spraying. The V300 is fitted with the DeLaval PureFlow system which cleans each teat individually with a 99 per cent teat spray hit rate. Increased stimulation from the PureFlow system also results in a 15 per cent higher milk flow. A new user interface – the DeLaval InControl mobile app – allows for remote control of the system as well as access to information.
Stay in control on the move
Alongside the V300, DeLaval has launched a new edition of its DelPro integrated farm management software, together with an associated app, DelPro Companion. Working in unison, these monitor your herd’s well-being 24-hours a day, bringing together the data needed to make decisions relating to performance, feeding, health, milking and reproduction. Being able to view all this in one tidy application for a mobile device allows you to maintain complete control of your farm and your herd from literally anywhere in the world.
Key benefits of the DelPro platform include:
Animal Welfare: DelPro has the ability to identify an animal becoming ill at an early stage so you can prevent her and other cows in the herd from becoming really sick.
Food Safety: You have full control over your cows feed ration throughout the different states of lactation. With DelPro you can set a controlled strategy for each cow and implement it for differing days in milk, production level, or lactation number. The system can also divert milk automatically in a given milking cycle.
Profitability: A closer focus on animal health drives productivity. DelPro helps to align efficient feeding with reproduction goals and expected yields. Each cow is treated as an individual with a focus on milking permission to help her meet her potential.
Work efficiency: DelPro manages work flows to ensure efficient performance. It allows you to analyse milk production and reproduction data to explore the effect on monthly production levels through these changes. The interface is easy to navigate with comprehensive downloadable reports.
DelPro Companion is available to download from Google Play or Apple’s App Store.
T H WHITE Dairy Manager Nigel Ellis is ready to tell you more about all the exciting developments from DeLaval. Call him on 01373 465941, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
01 Mar 2018
Most of us tend to feel happier and more content during the long, sunny days of summer. In winter, the opposite is true; dark mornings, early dusk and grey days can lower your mood. Well, the same is true for cows, but in a way that can directly affect their milk production. Most of us tend to feel happier and more content during the long, sunny days of summer. In winter, the opposite is true; dark mornings, early dusk and grey days can lower your mood. Well, the same is true for cows, but in a way that can directly affect their milk production.
Dairy farmers have known for a long time that giving cows more light increases milk yield. Studies have shown that exposing cows to16 hours of light each day will cause the pineal gland to produce less melatonin, in turn leading to increased feed intake and milk production. The uplift can be between 5% and 16% (averaging 8%) so it’s an increase well worth having. Until recently, however, the energy cost of providing the extra lighting made the benefits questionable.
To see how things have changed we visited the Morgans’ farm near Llantwit Major in South Glamorgan where T H WHITE installed DeLaval cow LED lighting in December.
The Morgans’ farm is in a beautiful position on hills overlooking the Bristol Channel. During the summer months the cows graze on pastures which form part of the 300-acre mixed farm, but in winter it’s a different story: “The wind here howls straight off the Atlantic – there’s literally nothing between here and America to shelter us,” says David Morgan. “We house the cows in the winter to give them some protection but obviously we still want to get the best milk yields that we can. We had been thinking about using lighting for a while to increase yields and we started talking to T H WHITE in the autumn.”
To make the lighting effective you can’t just use any light. Cows see a different part of the visible spectrum from humans so it’s important not only to achieve the correct lux levels (brightness of illumination) but also the right colour temperature. Most LED lighting systems in use today were designed for factories – not the high ceilings of barns – and so use a lot of energy to achieve the right light levels for the cows. DeLaval, however, has taken an entirely new approach in designing its cow LED units.
Only in 2014 were efficient blue light-emitting diodes invented (awarded the 2014 Nobel Prize for Physics) and DeLaval has used these together with additional optical lenses to achieve an even ‘bat wing’ light spread. The really clever part is that the DeLaval units deliver light at three different levels – ‘Herd Light’ for the cows’ eyes, ‘Work Light’ for farmers’ eyes, and ‘Night Light’ for the 8-hour dark period when the cows rest but farmers still need to work safely. By ‘switching off’ the light that the cows can’t see and implementing automatic dimming as natural light levels increase, power consumption can be reduced by up to 75 per cent.
“When the DeLaval cow LEDs were installed the difference was almost immediate,” says David. “We are seeing an increase of around 3 litres per cow – that’s money well spent, I’d say!”
Contact our Dairy specialists on 01373 465941 (Frome, Somerset) or 01452 830303 (Huntley, Gloucestershire).
01 Feb 2018
Anyone in the dairy business will tell you that recent years have not exactly been a bed of roses. Persistently low milk prices, cheap imports and uncertainty about the future have all made it difficult to plan for sustainability and development.
There are different schools of thought on the best way to meet these challenges. Some farmers, including quite a few new entrants to the dairy business, are developing large farms with up to 1,000 cows, seeing economy of scale as the answer to maintaining competitiveness in milk production. On many smaller farms however, where milking has been carried on through generations of the same family, the number of cows may have increased over the years but there simply isn’t the scope or the desire to take the large farm route. That doesn’t mean to say these farmers don’t see a bright future – it’s more about adopting the right approach and it’s encouraging to see significant investments being made for milk production on a smaller scale.
A case in point is Whitchurch Farm, Ston Easton, where the Osborne family has been engaged in dairy farming since 1947. Although only 11 miles from Bristol the farm could hardly be more rural, occupying a wonderful position on the Mendips, some of the buildings dating back to the mid-1600s. Today the farm is in the care of brothers Tom and Jonathan Osborne who took over from their father and grandfather. With 220 cows to milk they have just committed to a new, fully automated DeLaval 20/40 herringbone parlour from T H WHITE’s Dairy Department.
“Our old parlour certainly didn’t owe us anything,” says Tom who runs the dairy side of the business. “It was installed in 1976 so has given more than 40 years service, although we have updated it a couple of times with direct milk lines and milk meters. But it was becoming clear that it was approaching the end of its life, so rather than wait until we had a failure in, say, five years time, we decided to go for a new parlour.”
The decision was part of a plan to ‘future-proof’ the business. Both Tom and Jonathan have sons, but it’s too early for them to say whether they might eventually want to take over the dairy operation. To provide flexibility for the future Tom and Jonathan decided to locate the building to house the new parlour next to the substantial cow shed they built in 2003. This is a few hundred yards from the main farm complex, meaning that if necessary the dairy operation could become a self-contained unit if required.
When the cow shed was built extensive earthworks and ground levelling had to be carried out and much more of the same will be necessary for the new parlour, but it will be worth it says Tom: “The new 20/40 parlour will enable us to milk in around two hours, just right for our herd size. There are three key factors which can help make a smaller-scale dairy operation successful: herd size and health – which are inter-related – and guaranteed outlet for your milk. Experience shows us that our herd size is right and it enjoys good health with low veterinary bills. Our cows yield 7,200ltrs, with solids of 4.4 butter fat and 3.45 protein.
“That’s ideal as all our milk goes to Alvis Brothers in Bristol for high quality cheese production, which gives us an assured market.”
There is, however, another reason underpinning the viability of Whitchurch Farm – a high degree of self-sufficiency – with 120 acres of land providing grazing and forage. “Our grazing is white clover and we are also growing three-year red clover rye grass and crimped wheat,” says Jonathan, who manages the arable side of the business. “The only things we buy in are soya blend and cow cake.”
It was through the arable activities that the Osbornes first started doing business with T H WHITE, purchasing agricultural machinery from 1985 onwards, and then dairy service and maintenance from about 1990. “It’s a great relationship,” says Tom, “and one which looks set to continue with the new parlour!”
If you would like to talk to T H White about a dairy installation of any size, call Dairy manager Nigel Ellis on 01373 465941, or contact him by email at
01 Feb 2018
Our new Dairy Department Manager Nigel Ellis will already be familiar to many of our customers.
He was assistant dairy manager from 2009 to 2011, having worked in the T H WHITE Dairy Division since 1993. After a brief period away, during which he became a district sales manager for DeLaval, he has returned to manage the department. In just over a month in the job he is already closely involved in the installation of a large, 50-point rotary milking parlour near Frome and is helping dairy farmers who are keen to move to the DeLaval voluntary Milking System (VMS).
Nigel is also keep to champion the benefits of the Delpro milking management system as well as strengthening the installation teams at Huntley and Frome and relaunching the electrical side of the dairy business. You can contact Nigel on 07860 247367 or email email@example.com
01 Jan 2017
“The most important thing for anyone contemplating milking goats is to secure a contract with an established processing company.” So says Bryan Pugh who with his wife Anne, son Islwyn and daughter Elizabeth are part of the growing number of dairy farmers now milking smaller animals – in their case goats.
The Pugh’s farm occupies 240 acres of beautiful land in mid-Wales close to Builth Wells where they have been farming beef cattle and sheep all their working lives, and on the present farm since 1980. The arrival of Abergavenny Fine Foods – now a leading UK manufacturer of traditional goat cheeses – at nearby Blaenavon has acted as a catalyst for an increasing number of farmers in the area to start producing goats milk.
“Growing popularity of specialist goat cheeses has stimulated a market that didn’t really exist a few decades ago and having a top quality food manufacturing company almost on the doorstep changed the economics,” said Bryan. “We made the decision in 2015 to start milking goats and we knew that success would depend on getting the scale of the operation right.”
When it came to selecting and installing a milking parlour the Pughs wanted the capacity to cope with a growing herd. The first goats were raised from kids purchased in May 2015, which kidded a year later when milking commenced. The Pughs already had a small milking machine but had made plans for a larger, permanent parlour. “At the start we went to see another goat farmer, Gary Yeomans, who had recently had a DeLaval parlour installed by T H WHITE.
“We were particularly impressed by the fact that the DeLaval parlour was specifically designed to suit the behaviour of goats and sheep. Some other manufacturers just seem to scale down their designs for cow parlours. We liked what we saw and made contact with T H WHITE.”
George Eno, T H WHITE’s representative from the Huntley branch, visited the Pughs and compiled a proposal for a 2×18 parallel stall DeLaval P300SG parlour together with a MMS-SG milking management system. At the time of the proposal the farm was milking around 120 goats but the objective is eventually to have up to 400 goats in milk, making the P300SG parlour the perfect solution. It incorporates a vertical-lift front-exit stall with an integrated headlock system and sequence gates, all adding up to high throughput, smooth animal flow as well as comfort and safety for both operators and animals. Above all, it results in reduced labour costs.
Having accepted the proposal the Pughs saw their new parlour installed in just over a month, with the first milking taking place on 5 May last year. The add-on DeLaval MMS-SG milking management system enables the flow to be measured by a flow sensor that incorporates a shut-off valve and has the capability to be upgraded to a fully automated milk yield recording and animal identification system, allowing the installation to meet the demands of the growing business.
The Pughs are now milking twice a day and, with the new parlour, it takes just 25 minutes to milk the whole herd.
“We are very fortunate in having a contract with such a high quality producer as Abergavenny Fine Foods who take our entire production,” said Bryan. “Hopefully the new parlour will mean we can continue to supply their needs as our herd grows as it’s particularly gratifying to know we are part of a production cycle that results in these outstanding gourmet products.”
Already the herd size is expanding, entirely with home-bred animals which maintains the quality. At a time when parts of the UK dairy industry are struggling against rising costs and cheap imports, it’s pleasing to report on an enterprise that has set its objectives clearly and is already achieving them with notable success. Of course, it’s partly due to teamwork and, as Bryan will confirm, the help from T H WHITE and George Eno has been invaluable.
If you would like advice on milking parlours for goats or sheep, please contact George Eno at the T H WHITE Huntley branch on 01452 830303, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
04 Nov 2016
At long last milk prices appear to be on the rise and will hopefully herald better times for UK dairy farmers. However, the recent tough years have encouraged some farmers to look at new ventures. The market for goat milk and cheese has seen strong growth and there are probably more goats now being milked in the UK than ever before, but a smaller number of farmers have also turned to sheep.
One of these is Ruth Armishaw, who started milking sheep commercially last year at Mere Park Farm, near Warminster, and aims to expand her flock to around 800 ewes.
“I always knew it wouldn’t be easy,” said Ruth, “as there’s no deeply established tradition of sheep milking in England, so it’s necessary to create and grow your own markets. One of the aspects that really appeals to me is retaining control right through to the finished product – we are not just selling our milk to a processing factory. We actually bottle the fresh milk and make the cheeses on the farm, and we have great plans for new products including the most delicious ice cream.”
So far the results have been most encouraging and Ruth has enthusiastic uptake of her products from farm shops, delicatessens and quite a few leading chefs. Her speciality blue cheese, made with vegetable rennet, was awarded ‘Best Cheese of the Year’ by the Vegetarian Society, while her pressed cheese has already won gold and silver medals.
To some extent Ruth came to this by chance. In 2011 the Armishaws were looking for a property project when they found Mere Park Farm, a 296-acre plot in a run-down state. Having purchased it they set about rebuilding the farmhouse and revitalising the land. In this grassland area they initially had thoughts of producing hay, but their first venture into livestock came with the purchase of 50 North Country ‘mules’ from Wilton Sheep Fair – a cross between a lowland ram and a pure-bred upland ewe. Having borrowed a Texel ram
they had their first lambing in February 2013. “I absolutely loved it,” Ruth remembers, “but we had a large number of triplets and many became ‘orphans’. The high cost of ewe milk replacer made us think it would make sense to acquire some more sheep to milk for the lambs, so we purchased a further lot from Frome Market, which included some East Friesland ewes.
170 lambs were added at the second lambing and the initial venture was rapidly becoming a full-blown business. It was time to take stock and, with advice and help from their farm manager Stuart Green, the Armishaws purchased the adjoining 240-acre farm in November 2015. The decision was taken to enlarge the flock to start producing milk for human consumption so Stuart travelled to Germany on a buying mission where he purchased another 150 East Friesland ewe lambs.
By this stage milking was the biggest challenge and with an eye to future production a bespoke sheep milking parlour was planned. Ruth started by phoning possible suppliers: “Some of the companies were suggesting a converted goat parlour, but I knew I didn’t want that. We were determined to do this properly and we wanted a parlour that was specifically designed for sheep.
“This was where Gary Grant from T H WHITE really helped. His Dairy team recommended a DeLaval sheep parlour and put us in touch with DeLaval so that we could satisfy ourselves on all the details.”
“The preparations and installation of the new parlour were going to take several months, but in the meantime we had an urgent need to improve our milking facilities. T H WHITE built us a temporary portable parlour, mounted on a lorry trailer so that we could move it around easily – a great interim solution that cut milking time to 2½ hours, still a lengthy process but a lot better than before!”
Groundworks for the new permanent parlour began last Christmas and the first milking took place bang on the target date of 1 April this year. The DeLaval parlour – the first of its type to be installed in the UK – is a P300SG 18/18 parallel stall, rapid-exit design with automatic cluster removal, fitted with a cushioned floor in the pit for operator comfort. An interesting addition are the udder-lifter arms that gently raise the ewe’s udder at the centre, bringing the teats into the lowest position to deliver maximum milk yield.
The parlour functions are controlled by software similar to DeLaval’s Alpro system used in cow parlours, but rewritten for the specific needs of sheep. Ewes’ Electronic ID tags are read on entering the parlour, and can also be automatically drafted from the rest of the flock if necessary. The tag also carries yield information enabling the highest yielders to be identified for breeding.
Such has been the success with lambing cycles at Mere Park Farm that the ewes have now been divided into four groups, lambing for 17 days, four times a year, in January, April, October and July. Sheep can lactate for nine months, but Stuart Green has adopted a policy of milking them for six months, putting them back to the ram when dry.
Success with the sheep enterprise may only be the start of bigger things for the Armishaws. Ruth already has a herd of handsome Devon cows on the farm which may be developed for a further venture. We’ll undoubtedly be hearing more about Mere Park Farm!
For more information on specialist milking parlours please contact T H WHITE Dairy on 01373 465941.
04 Jul 2016
Continuing depressed milk prices have caused many dairy farmers to take a long, cool look at the economics of their business, and Gloucestershire farmer David Merrett is no exception.
The Merrett’s farm near Arlingham sits in a bucolic sweep of country enfolded by a broad meander of the River Severn. It has over 100 acres of grassland and until 2011 the herd of 125 cows grazed the pastures. At that point, the Merretts invested in the DeLaval Voluntary Milking System (VMS).
“VMS has been a real asset to our production,” said David, “but the cows do need to be able to access the milking stations easily which makes outdoor grazing impractical. With the milk price taking another tumble from last year we had to examine our costs again and one of the largest elements was feed and concentrates.
“Instead of using our grass for silage we began to think about a zero grazing system during the summer months, with fresh grass being harvested on a rotation of about three weeks from March to October and brought in daily to the cows. After all, cows are meant to eat grass so what could be better?!”
T H WHITE, which has helped the Merretts with other installations including the robotic milking, recommended a system developed in Ireland by Grass Technology Ltd – the Grass Tech Grazer. Designed to cope with the high fresh weight of grass found in the UK, the Tech Grazer is a specially constructed trailer fitted with a Galfre twin drum mower and an elevator that lifts the cut grass into the trailer body. The trailer is offset from the tractor during mowing avoiding any pre-compaction of the grass and the mower is driven from the tractor PTO. Once cut, the grass is lifted by a high capacity elevator which rotates at just 70rpm to avoid damaging the young grass, thus ensuring that maximum nutritional value is maintained and it stays fresher for longer.
The whole unit is designed with weight-saving in mind to minimise ground impact, allowing the cut grass to regenerate rapidly. Unloading the cut grass exactly where it is needed is made easy by the Tech Grazer’s hydraulic tailgate and moving floor.
“We have only been using the Tech Grazer for a fairly short time but already the figures suggest that replacing feed with fresh grass looks likely to save us about a ton of feed per animal every year. That’s a huge saving,” said David.
Milk quality and yields have remained largely unchanged but animal health is good and the cows clearly love the fresh grass… “We never saw them come to eat as eagerly as they do now when we bring the grass in! Of course, we still target-feed any animals that need special attention, but we can do that in the feed dispensed in the VMS units.”
Associated benefits of zero grazing include a dramatic increase in grass utilization. Traditional grazing results in grass utilisation of 55-60%, but with zero grazing this is increased to about 95%. “It has also given us more flexible crop rotation,” David added. “When we used to put the cows out to graze, practicality dictated that they had to be in the fields nearest the cow shed. Now we are free to rotate the crops in any of our fields to get the most out of them.”
Built to last, the Grass Tech Grazer is available in three models – the GT80 Tandem, GT120 tandem and GT 160 Tri axle to suit herds of all sizes. Full details are available by contacting Bob Gallop at T H WHITE on 01373 465941.
26 May 2016
The Reakes family have been farming Temple House Farm, on the Mendips near Shepton Mallet 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.”
Of course, you could always talk to the T H WHITE Dairy team for advice on milking parlours and the AirWash Plus system. Just call 01373 465941, or Gary Grant on 07860 590701.
26 May 2016
“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.
“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.”
While on-site, T H White also installed 48 powerful LED light clusters in the two cow sheds. With 40 per cent funding from the Countryside Productivity Scheme, these lights enable daylight hours to be artificially extended which improves milk yields – yet another way of increasing the viability of organic dairy farming.
26 Apr 2016
There have been many far-reaching changes since the Norris family arrived at Sandys Hill Farm near Frome 63 years ago, but the latest chapter in the development of this dairy business is set to have a bigger impact than anything that has gone before. In mid-February this year milking on the farm was switched to four DeLaval robotic units with associated milking control and feed systems installed by T H WHITE.
Back in 1952 the family had just 16 Shorthorns which they milked by hand. In those early days Bob Norris worked with with his father and mother on the farm, being joined later by his brother Phil who left to go to university in 1970. The third brother, Dan, left school in 1979 and also started work on the farm. Gradually, the size of the herd was increased to today’s total of 220 cows, 195 of which are in milk.
“In 1994 we put in a DeLaval Blue Diamond tandem 2×5 stainless steel parlour which was perfect when we had 120-150 cows,” said Dan. “The parlour still had many years of life left in it, but now, with 195 cows being milked, the throughput was slow – it was taking 3½ hours twice a day plus washing time. We are all getting older and even though Bob’s son Jim has joined us in running the farm, he has suffered from hip problems. We all thought it was time to try and simplify our workload to give us and our wives – Jane, Emma and Pam – a better lifestyle cutting out the anti-social working hours.” These were the factors that led the Norrises to consider robotic milking.
At that point Phil, who had retired from a career as a defence engineer, returned to help on the farm while Jim had a hip operation, also contributing investment to the robotic milking project. “I was really pleased to be back,” he said, “and we started by looking at options from several manufacturers. In the end the DeLaval VMS (Voluntary Milking System) recommended by T H WHITE – who are very local to us in Frome – stood out above the competition.” Theoretically the farm could have managed with three DeLaval VMS units, but it was decided to invest for the future by going for four. “With the extra unit the cows can be milked whenever they want. Since we started using VMS the cows are being milked almost three times a day on average and we are aiming for 11,500 litres from each cow. With a capacity of around 55 cows per robot we have the scope to increase the size of the herd which could help with production economics against a background of uncertain milk prices,” Jim added.
The new VMS units were installed in conjunction with the DeLaval Milk-First cow traffic management system. This uses a selection gate to guide and pre-select cows for milking. The gate’s software determines whether or not a cow has permission to milk based on her expected yield, hours since last milking, lactation number and stage of lactation. This ensures that when a cow visits the robot she will be milked or diverted – eliminating refusals and increasing station capacity. The motivation for the cows is feeding, and feed concentrations in the milking units are used to tempt them in. Cows are pre-selected on their way from the stalls to the feed troughs – if they have milking permissions, they will enter the commitment pen to go through the robot; without milking permissions, they can simply go through the feed lane to eat. Dairy management is entrusted to DeLaval DelPro software which monitors all aspects of cow health, feeding, milk yield and reproduction, providing all the information needed to increase efficiency and profitability. When the time came to switch from the old parlour to the VMS system the Norrises helped to acclimatise the herd with a week’s training during which the cows were incentivised with feed to follow the logical paths through the traffic lanes. “Almost all of them took to it very easily,” said Jim. “Most of the cows stood still in the VMS stalls and very few kicked the milking lines off. Because the cows are guided, less fetching is needed and even cows with special needs are automatically diverted into a holding pen ready for when the vet visits. It has really cut down our workload.”
As might be expected with an installation of this size and complexity there were some minor teething issues. “At first some of the gates were acting prematurely and ‘pinching’ the cows, but with T H WHITE virtually on our doorstep their engineers were here straight away to address the problem.
“The whole system is proving its worth already, giving us a much better quality of life. If something in the system or one of the cows does need our attention we are alerted via smartphone messages whether we are at home, at the shops or on holiday anywhere in the world. Things can be dealt with promptly and we only have to go out when it’s really necessary. That really is luxury for a dairy farmer!”
If you are considering changing the way you milk or manage your herd it really is worth having a chat to the dairy team at T H WHITE on 01373 465941. We can help make your operation more efficient and profitable, as well as giving you more free time!
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