Halving milking time, ensuring it can be a one-man job and, ultimately, growing the operation have been the goals behind the development of a remarkably innovative dairy in Northern NSW.
Ron and Lorraine Stoddart milk 140 Holsteins under a pasture-based system at the picturesque 140 hectare property, Warning View Holsteins, Tyalgum, west of Murwillumbah.
They send about 680,000 litres to Lismore-based dairy co-operative Norco annually.
The couple have just replaced their old 27-aside, 45 degree swing over dairy with a 72-aside right angle combined dairy and feed pad in a 15m wide by 50m long shed.
It features one set of cups for three cows, which swing over to milk the other side.
Norco milk supply field officer Bill Fulkerson said the innovative structure was probably the only one of its kind in Australia.
Cows consume their three kilograms of grain while they are being milked and Mr Stoddart says he loves how they ‘come roaring into the dairy’.
The facility serves as a pad to feed both silage or hay as well as concentrates, when needed.
It also has a four metre concrete strip on each side of the milking platform where other stock can come and have access to the feeding trough and where the tractor can distribute the product conveniently.
Mr Stoddart said it now takes 50 minutes to milk 130 cows, where before it took him close to three hours.
It has also combined two jobs into one and meant milking can be done by just one person.
“I used to come out at 3.30am and run the silage out, then return again at 5am to milk,” Mr Stoddart said.
“It’s a massive labour saving and that means greater efficiency.”
It also means that cows can rest a lot more and have more grazing time.
“I don’t have any scientific stats but I’d like to think that adds up to more production,” Mr Stoddart said.
Cows are in the bale eating for 40 minutes.
Tombstone head stalls keep them in position.
“We used to have the problem that once a cow had finished eating, she’d push into her neighbour’s helping so that’s why we put in the tombstones,” Mr Stoddart said.
He is now looking to replace the bought-in barley with homegrown maize, which will allow for an increase in the numbers milked.
Ten hectares of solid set irrigation has just been installed, with that amount scheduled again for next year.
“Ultimately, we should be able to irrigate 80ha so I think we can lift numbers to 250,’ Mr Stoddart said.
He started planting maize ‘in a serious way’ this summer and the good season looks like providing for impressive yields.
The investment comes on the back of faith that dairying in NSW has an optimistic future.
“People will always want milk,” Mr Stoddart said.By
“The challenge for the farmer is to be able to produce it efficiently and to still have some sort of a lifestyle.”
By: Shan Goodwin
Source: The Australian Dairyfarmer