Leo and Giles Rowland
Centrus Composite Rotary
"The whole experience has been a very positive one"
A new rotary milking parlour in North Wales, built to revolutionise the milking environment for workers and cows, is delivering on the promise.
Brothers Leo and Giles Rowland are partners in a 250 acre dairy farm in Denbighshire which today milks around 370 cows.
“The family moved here in 1965 and Giles and I took over from our father in 2000,” Leo said “gradually increasing the herd over the years and changing the farming system from grazed to housed.
“There have been a few parlours over the years. The first was a shippon tie stall, followed by a 9 stall rotary carousel where the cows stood side-on to the milker and then a 10 aside herringbone. In 1994 we built a 25/50 swing-over herringbone.
“That parlour served us well for 25 years but over that time we’d progressively changed the breed of the herd from British Friesians to larger framed Holsteins which thrive in an intensive system. The milking machine was fine but everything else was now wrong - the cows hated it, they were cramped and uncomfortable. It was a stressful environment and taking three people 3½ hours to milk, twice a day year round.”
Leo said he and Giles regularly work in the parlour. “We enjoy milking and don’t see any reason to stop but we had to change the milking environment so it’d be a pleasant and productive experience for us, our staff and the cows.”
A rotary parlour had always been top of the list, Leo recalls. “We had been looking at various rotaries over the years and really liked what Waikato Milking Systems was producing. We particularly liked the Centrus Composite Rotary which reeks quality and durability; it’s a beautiful thing.”
Working with milking machine specialist, MR Dean, Leo and Giles Rowland settled on a 50 bail Centrus Composite Rotary which was commissioned in April 2018.
“The new rotary is located adjacent to the housing barns so we simply walked the cows through the new facility twice a day for a couple of days before ‘D Day’ when we changed over to the new parlour. By that time they were relatively used to it, knew they’d get fed on the platform, and settled surprisingly quickly.”
In contrast to the old parlour, the new Centrus Composite Rotary is equipped with a range of technologies which aid production, animal health and efficiency like NaviGate draft gate and software, SmartECRs, SmartD-TECT, Electronic milk meters, SmartSPRAY and heavy duty bails.
“The technologies might be sophisticated but, thankfully, they’re easy to use and we know we’ll get even more out of the system as time goes on as we become more proficient.
“In contrast to the old parlour, the new rotary is very quiet, with rubber matting on the platform, and the cows are extremely happy.
“One of the best indicators of cow comfort is that our reattachment rate has gone from horrendous, in the old parlour, to almost non-existent. The cows now come on quietly, stand, milk and leave without kicking the cups off – and not having to reattach cups adds tremendously to the overall milking experience.
“It’s now taking two men two hours to milk from start to finish. The herd is milking very well and we’re finding it easier to hit our targets. We are not one of those farms whose milkings are ‘hell for leather’ – our focus is on doing a good and consistent job.
“The herd is milked in relatively small groups of 170 cows and we’re finding the speed and efficiency of milking on the new rotary platform has dramatically shortened the time they are away from the barn. The yard man is the one who’s running now as he has to get the cows out for milking and prepare the bed in 30 minutes before they return! It’s a much more efficient and productive operation as we’ve reduced the time the cows are standing around waiting to be milked.”
Leo said he and Giles “love milking in the new parlour.
“The whole experience has been a very positive one. We’ve had fantastic service and support from Mr Dean and Waikato Milking Systems here in the UK and in New Zealand and the Centrus is everything we hoped it would be.
“With the benefit of hindsight the major investment in the Waikato parlour has being a big success and we have no regrets.”
- HD Bails
- Electronic Milk Meters
- NaviGate Sort Gate