Dustin and Eileen Swinkels, Afton Hills
Centrus Composite Rotary
"We were sceptical at first but after traveling to New Zealand and United States and seeing the rotary platforms in action, it became clear that it would be a good fit at our farm".
Dustin and Eileen Swinkels built a solid platform for the future of their dairy farm and the installation of their new milking system is complete.
The couple manage Afton Hills Farm in Antigonish County, Nova Scotia, Canada, where they milk 200 cows on the Swinkels family’s 660 acres (267 hectares) property. The family engaged Waikato Milking Systems in New Zealand to provide their new dairy platform, which will be a 40-stall Centrus Composite Rotary. It will replace their old 16-point herringbone parlour which has been in service since November 1990.
Dustin and Eileen said they had never heard of the Waikato brand until they started looking at the benefits of a rotary platform over their old herringbone system.
“We were sceptical at first but after traveling to New Zealand and then to United States and seeing the Waikato Milking Systems rotary platforms in action, it became a clear that it would be a good fit at our farm,” Dustin said.
The new platform features a host of milking automation and dairy management technology options making it easier for the family to manage the herd and ensure there’s room for expansion in the future.
Milking automation features include Waikato Milking Systems SmartSPRAY, an automatic teat sprayer designed specifically for rotary platforms. Another is SmartD-TECT a system which has individual teat pulsation control so cows let their milk down faster. It also has sensors to measure the conductivity of milk from each quarter of the cow. The Swinkels said these two milking automation features in particular will allow the farm to milk more cows with fewer staff.
Waikato Milking Systems NaviGate Dairy Management System gathers information collected by milk sensor equipment on the platform, such as Electronic Milk Meters, to help the Swinkels make better management decisions and to improve the overall productivity of their herd. Dustin and Eileen can also use that data to program the NaviGate Sort Gate, to automatically sort their animals at the end of each milking session.
“The Sort Gate greatly facilitates managing cows, saving us time,” Eileen said.
“Overall the efficiency of the rotary allows us to continue to expand the herd and grow our operation,” she said.
The Swinkels said news of the new milking system had sparked interest from others working in the dairy industry around Nova Scotia.
“Many dairy farmers are keeping an eye on the Waikato Milking Systems installation, they are very excited to see the rotary in action,” Dustin said.
Waikato Milking Systems International Sales Manager Grant Wisnewski said he met the Swinkels through the company’s dealer, ATL Dairy Automation in Canada.
We then brought Dustin out to New Zealand where he was impressed with the way the Waikato rotary works. When he returned, he then visited another of our Centrus Composite Rotary platforms operating in Michigan, a 60-bail platform, to see how well it operated.”
Grant said Waikato Milking Systems started the Afton Hills project installation in 2018, in the North America autumn/fall, work stopped for the winter and restarted over the northern summer. The project was completed in October.
Parlor Components: SmartD-TECT, Electronic Milk Meters, SmartECRs, SmartDRIVE Milk Pump Controller, SmartDRIVE Vacuum Pump Controller, SmartSPRAY, NaviGate Dairy Management System, HD Bails (Galv), under pass, Pivot Rollers, Remote Plant Controller, Rotary Positioning System, Cluster Drop, Automatic Track Oiler, Oil Recovery System.
- Electronic Milk Meters
- SmartDRIVE Milk Pump Controller
- SmartDRIVE Vacuum Pump Controller
- SmartSPRAY, NaviGate Dairy Management System
- HD Bails (Galv), under pass
- Pivot Rollers