100 years have passed since an invention from a little-known Pahiatua farmer revolutionised dairy farming around the world.
So successful was the first mechanised vacuum pump milking machine created by Norman Daysh that the core basics fine tuned by milking machine company DeLaval have largely remained unchanged.
Daysh’s invention was recognised at an event at the company’s headquarters in Hamilton on Wednesday where his grandchildren John and Mary Daysh were presented with a plaque to mark 100 years since the world’s first commercially successful milking machine was launched.
he basic concept had remained unchanged for so long and highlighted the significance of the invention, Delaval’s Oceania sales management director Justin Thompson said.
“It’s something that’s stood the test for 100 years and is relatively unchanged.”
Grandson John Daysh said Daysh’s invention was something that New Zealanders should be proud of.
“I’m certainly proud of my grandfather and I want people to know about it.”
Daysh’s father was a dairy farmer and grew up on the farm milking cows by hand in the 1880s-1890s. It was an age when there were lots of inventions and innovations occurring with flying machines and cars, he said.
“Norman had a real interest in those mechanical things.”
Daysh’s brother-in-law was an engineer and the pair tried to develop a solution that would allow farmers to milk cows mechanically. He said people including famous American inventor Thomas Edison had already tried unsuccessfully to invent the machine.
“My grandfather made a machine that was comfortable for the cow and productive for the workers, which was revolutionary.
“He was successful because he was a dairy farmer and he knew how sensitive cows were and how to extract the milk from them in a way that was comfortable for the cow.”
Daysh secured more than 20 patents for his machine before travelling from Wairarapa to New York in 1913 in the hopes of finding a global company interested in helping him perfect the machine he had designed.
In New York, DeLaval recognised the potential of Daysh’s machine and his innovative spirit. Together they finetuned the machine, and then in 1917, launched it to the world.
He offered a return guarantee on the first 100 machines that were sold if the farmers were not happy with them. None of them were returned.
Daysh died of a heart attack in 1924 aged 42, while demonstrating the machine at the Palmerston North Showgrounds. John said his grandfather’s invention transformed dairy farming.
“It’s a wonderful New Zealand story and to have it in my own family is fantastic.”
John said Daysh would be gobsmacked and dumbfounded if he was alive today and could see the technological advancements in the dairy industry.
DeLaval chief executive Joakim Rosengren sent a video message where he described Daysh as: “A truly remarkable man who was basing his innovation on vision and most importantly, animal welfare.”
DeLaval also announced they would create an innovation scholarship in recognition of Daysh.
The scholarship would be aimed at primary schools rather than universities to fund innovation, DeLaval Asia-Pacific market development vice president Ken Ward said.
“We see this as a way to get our children excited about an industry we fully believe in.”