"We know that the overall wear and tear of the platform will be reduced because the Centrus is super lightweight"
RealGrass Group in Germany converted a conventional in-door milking parlour into a pasture-based dairy operation. It is the only dairy milking operation in Germany where cows are outside 365 days of the year.
Work on transforming the company’s farm in Netzen, south-west of Berlin, started in 2014.
RealGrass fenced off 400ha of pasture, installed water and roadways, reseeded grass and switched to seasonal calving.
It also moved from using Holsteins for the old in-door milking system, to a Jersey-cross dairy cow for the new pasture-based dairy, using genetics from New Zealand.
The crossbred cow proved to be more robust and healthier, and low cost compared to the Holstein.
At the heart of the new milking operation is a 60-bail Centrus Composite Rotary platform which was installed in 2018 and commissioned in 2019. It is now being used to milk the farm’s 950 cows.
It’s packed with technology designed to make life easier for the operator and comfortable for the animals on the platform.
Vicky Lynch, from RealGrass, said the advantage of the Centrus was that it could be tailored and optimised to fit into the farm’s existing building.
“This simply isn’t offered with some other rotary brands. Also, if we ever need to repair or replace a section of the rotary, we know it’s not going to be a big issue.
“We know that the overall wear and tear of the platform will be reduced because the Centrus is super lightweight. It’s low maintenance and easy to use.
“It’s built perfectly for a cross-bred cow but can adapt to a high yielding Holstein too which is a huge advantage for a company.
“The fact that Waikato Milking Systems could cater to both demands was very impressive to us, the consumer.
“Also, the ‘made to measure’ aspect of the platform is perfect for anyone retrofitting a shed or getting the exact size that is optimal for their herd size.”
Vicky said the technology RealGrass selected to add to the Centrus made milking, breeding, handling and sorting the animals much easier while also reducing labour.
She said team moral had increased because milking was now easy and calm. The staff loved the new Centrus as much as the animals.
“We also added a veterinary platform and that has been such a hit with our team from dosing to artificial insemination.”
Vicky said the company visited other farms using rotary platforms before deciding on which brand to buy. She has also visited New Zealand to see working dairy parlours.
“Anytime we visited a Waikato Milking Systems rotary we were amazed by its low level of noise and the overall chilled vibe of the animals.”
RealGrass held an open day, after the Centrus was commissioned, to show people the farm’s unique operation.
“We have so many visitors wanting to see the parlour because no one in Germany has seen a rotary as robust, hardy and user friendly as this. I couldn’t recommend the parlour enough.”
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