Two 80 bail Waikato Milking Systems rotary platforms are at the heart of a new 10,000 cow dairy farm in China which showcases some of the most stringent animal welfare and processing standards in the world.
The 1014 acre farm in Huaxian in China’s Shaanxi province north west of Shanghai is owned by one of the country’s largest dairy processors, Bright Dairies.
Just returned from visiting the new facility, Waikato Milking’s Country Manager China, David Morris, says the installation is one of a number the company has undertaken on Bright Dairies’ extensive network of farms.
“Bright Dairies was formed in 1911 and is, today, one of the largest milk processors in China its farms providing milk which the company processes into a broad range of fresh milk, yoghurt and dairy products for the domestic market.
“Trust is big in China and you earn that by ensuring that what you promise delivers. We put a huge amount of effort into building and sustaining relationships which are built on trust and brand integrity.
“The innovation and manufacturing standards of our products and the depth of our customer service complement the standards Bright Dairies applies to every aspect of its farm operations,” David Morris said.
“Dairying in China has evolved in response to environmental challenges and the standards new conversions are required to meet are amongst the most stringent in the world – certainly tougher than they are in New Zealand,” he said.
Those standards see all animals, in intensive dairy operations, housed all year round in purpose-built American style barns where they are fed a diet of alfalfa, silage and corn some of which is grown on the farm with the bulk imported from the United States and Australia.
“Around 75% of feed is brought to the farm – 60% coming from the USA – and thousands of tonnes of hay imported from Australia each year.
“The climate at Huaxian means the absence of walls and a flat roof ensures the cows have the optimum temperature all year round,” David Morris said.
“Dairying land is leased off the Chinese Government but obtaining consent to convert to dairying is preceded by an extensive regulatory process which requires companies to satisfy stringent requirements relating to such things as animal welfare, preservation of the environment, biosecurity etc.”
The new installation at the Huaxian Bright Ecological Demonstration Dairy Farm is the latest in a number of Waikato Milking Systems rotary platforms across China with increasing demand for new builds.
The twin concrete Orbit rotary platforms were commissioned in October 2016 and currently milk 3,000 cows three times a day, 365 days of the year. As the infrastructure builds and matures, the herd size will increase to a maximum of 10,000 cows.
Cow are milked for 20 hours a day with the remaining four hours devoted to cleaning the milking system. Chinese dairy farms are regulated to wash the plant every six hours and the dairy is set-up so the platforms continue to rotate during washing.
The new dairy has milk metering and each cow is fitted with a pedometer that provides milk yield and activity data and which is fully integrated with herd management software. The system also has automatic sorting and weighing.
David Morris said all milk produced in China must be able to be traced back to the farm and the animal.
“Each cow’s pedometer identifies the cow generating up to the minute data on what she is producing and the optimum time for mating.”
Around 300 people are employed on the farm, with five people involved on each platform at each milking. Two people are involved in applying, and then removing, an iodine solution to each teat; at this point they may also choose to strip the cow before cups are applied. At the end of milking, each teat is again dipped in iodine solution.
Somatic cell count, at the Huaxian Bright Ecological Demonstration Dairy Farm, is testament to the rigorous cleaning, with an average count of 110,000.
David Morris said the focus on biosecurity and animal welfare on modern Chinese dairy farms is very strong.
“The cows live in spacious, well ventilated barns and fed the highest quality feed - they get an individualised attention which would not be possible with a lower level of staffing.
“Effluent management is very sophisticated – water is removed from effluent, then it is heated and steralised to provide bedding for the cows. Farms have huge storage ponds and inject effluent into the ground in a concentrated form or as fertiliser granules, avoiding leaching.
“You simply cannot walk onto a modern dairy farm in China without first being kitted out in protective gear and then being required to walk through ultraviolet lights before you come into contact with the cows. Disease containment and prevention is also behind new regulations which prevent visits to two different farms within three days.
“In contrast with New Zealand, where dairy floors tend to be concrete, modern dairy farms in China have porcelain tiles which are impervious to bacteria, and the surface of our rotary platforms are covered with 17mm thick rubber mats.”
David Morris said the ability for Waikato Milking Systems to produce its revolutionary Centrus composite rotary platform to any size has attracted a lot of interest in China and around the world.
“What this means is farmers can have a rotary platform tailor-made to suit the configuration of their building where, until now, they have had to select from a given range of bail sizes.
“Chinese investors are always looking for technology which will increase the efficiency and productivity of their farms and the Centrus composite platform, recognised as the most advanced rotary platform in the world, is creating huge interest,” David Morris said.