Farm owners returning to milking and discovering what it's actually like to work in their own milking sheds, are giving milking machine manufacturers an unexpected source of income.
Sales of milking machine systems in New Zealand have fallen because of the low dairy payout. Manufacturers at this weeks National Agricultural Fieldays near Hamilton report farmers are also deferring maintenance on their milking machines.
However Waikato Milking Systems CEO Dean Bell says there've been some strong sales of automation equipment for farm dairies.
"Quite frankly when we see farm owners going back onto the farm to do milking... historically they have had staff doing that job, so when they go back and do it themselves they often want to invest in automation to make that job easier."
Waikato Milking Systems is also diversifying. It launched its first rotary milking system for sheep and goats at Fieldays.
"It just gives us a whole new industry sector to get into so that we're not entirely getting all of our revenue from one particular piece of the economy."
Dean Bell says the company has also grown its international business from 20 percent of its total revenue three or four years ago to more than 50 percent. He says that has helped insulate it from the impact of the recent drop in domestic sales.
Dean says he's confident the milk price will pick up.
"It's like waiting for Christmas... so every time I wake up in the morning I'm one step closer to (the) milk price eventually recovering and it will recover. We just have to grind this thing out in the same way our customers do."
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