Orbit Concrete Rotary
SmartECRs, BailGates, SmartSPRAY
Jamie Costin admits to being a bit nervous about the logistics of installing a new rotary milking machine to replace his tired herringbone system.
“It was a big undertaking, I had electricians, plumbers and all sorts around our farm. I’m not a building site manager but I just took a lot of advice and learned on the job.
“In the end the installation was done efficiently and quickly, so I was happy.”
Work on Jamie’s new 54-bail Orbit Concrete Rotary Platform, from Waikato Milking Systems, started in February 2019. The completed dairy parlour, at his County Waterford property in south-east Ireland, was commission in June, 2019.
Like other farmers in Ireland, the abolition of milking quotas opened the doors for Jamie to increase his herd. “We were milking about 150 cows on a 20-unit herringbone but we slowly moved our heard up to 350 cows after the quotas finished.
“I was milking three or more hours in the morning and then three hours in the evening, without any feeders in the parlour. It was getting tough so I knew things had to change. I started researching what the options were.”
Jamie thought about expanding his existing herringbone but ideally wanted to be in a situation where he could run the milking parlour by himself, if needed.
“I started researching rotary platforms. I had no experience working with them so I decided to educate myself and took a look at other farms that were using them. I was just impressed with the efficiency and the number of cows that you could milk in a short time.”
It was for that reason Jamie decided to select a rotary parlour and took some advice from Waikato Milking Systems European Sales Manager Gillian Fullerton-Smith.
“I like a person who talks facts and one of the reasons I went with Waikato is because Gillian was able to provide some straight answers, to the best of her ability.
“The installation was a big undertaking but it was good to have someone like Gillian to work with, who was able to take me through the process.”
The Orbit rotary has allowed Jamie to cut down each milking session from about 3.5 hours to an hour and 10 minutes.
Jamie was very selective when it came to adding technology to the new parlour, to ensure one person could operate it.
He selected three options, including BailGate Control, to help him manage the animals on the platform; SmartSPRAY to ensure the health of the cows’ teats, and SmartECRs, to reduce time removing the cups. “Those are the three things I needed to be able to run the parlour by myself. I don’t need the other technology options yet but I know that somewhere down the road I can add on, that should be easy.”
Jamie said it took a bit of work to get the herd used to the rotary platform the first time.
“Once they got a sniff of the feed in the parlour, it was easy. Now the cows are walking onto the rotary platform themselves, doing their laps and walking off. They’re really happy.”
Jamie said there was plenty of interest in his Orbit rotary during the first month of its operation. “There will be plenty of farmers like us, who are milking on their 24-30-unit herringbone, and looking for something more efficient.
“A lot of farmers growing their herd up to 300 or more are converting to a rotary to make milking easier.”
Jamie said switching milking platforms can be an expensive move but his advice is to other farmers is to plan correctly and “know what you want first”.
“I know it’s not for everyone, there is a margin of gain. If you have 200-250 cows you might be better off with a heringbone but for us, a rotary suits us well.
“I wouldn’t rule out increasing our herd in the future, that’s why I went with a 54-bail rotary system. I’ll be able to get more cows through, it’ll be more efficient.
“One person can operate the machine, milking the cows quickly, without being under so much pressure.”