Centrus Composite Rotary
"I just think the constant, even flow of cows, coming in and out, that’s very appealing"
Brad Clinton knew something had to change when milking 500 cows on his farm’s old double-up milking parlour was taking five-to-six hours.
“Our double six, step-up parlour was pretty efficient when we had a smaller herd. You could milk about 90 to 100 cows per hour.
“Then we were milking 500 cows, three times a day, it was pretty labour intensive and not really what this type of parlour was meant for.”
The Clinton Farm, in Bear Creek, Wisconsin in the US, produces about 80 pounds (about 37kgs) of milk per day, per cow, and supplies to Saputo Dairy. The property is 2300 acres and the farm grows its own crops as well as some cash crops too.
The family farm launched a major expansion plan in 2018 and at the top of the list was a new milking system.
“We just knew that the type of parlour we were using, with the amount of cows we were milking, something had to change.
“We had to do something different and I kind of always knew that I’d want to go into a rotary, if the chance came up to build a new parlour.”
Brad said Waikato Milking Systems wasn’t a well-known brand in Wisconsin at the time the family planned its redevelopment project.
“We heard about the company through our dealer a year or two before we decided that we were going to build a new parlour.”
He was then introduced to the benefits of the company’s Centrus Composite Rotary platform. It really piqued his interest.
“One of the big reasons we went with Waikato Milking Systems was the quality of the deck itself.
“Being composite, it does not have all that weight to carry, like a concrete platform, as it turns.”
The composite platform proved to be a real drawcard at an open day Clinton Farms held to showcase its new dairy parlour and buildings.
“We had around 800 people here, a lot of people from our area but also from other parts of the state and I know there were a few from other states as well.
“There was a lot of interest in the parlour and in particular the composite deck, people wanted to know more about it.”
Brad said the overall “constant cow flow” the rotary platform delivers was another top feature the farm was looking for, when it redeveloped the parlour.
“You’re not milking 20 cows at a time and the other 20 just standing there. I just think the constant, even flow of cows, coming in and out, that’s very appealing.”
The new Centrus Composite Rotary platform has a number of milking automation and dairy management features to improve the farm’s production.
It’ll mean Brad and his team can reduce milking time from five-to-six hours in their old parlour, to just two hours in their new system.
When it came to automation, the parlour included SmartECRs (Electronic Cup Removers); SmartD-TECT for pulsation and milk conductivity measurements; Yield Indicators to measure milk volume and HD Stainless Steel Bails suitable for larger livestock.
It also has SmartSPRAY, for pre and post milking.
All of the data generated by these automation options are gathered by the parlour’s NaviGate Dairy Management System. The information can be viewed on a parlour console and the operator can make better informed decisions about how to manage the herd.
“It means everything is available for us to see on the computer screen. We can go back to the previous milking and see what happened to compare the data and make decisions.
“Basically it lets you know what’s going on with your herd. You’re not totally relying on your milkers to notice everything as the cows are being milked.
“It gives you peace of mind that things are getting done the right way and you know you’re getting a consistent milking routine.”
The NaviGate Sort Gate is also part of the dairy management system and will allow Brad to automatically sort the animals as they come off the platform and exit the parlour, using animal ID reader technology.
Brad said the herd took a bit on convincing using the rotary for the first time, after graduating from the old in-line system.
“It took two or three milkings, after that they started walking on themselves. You notice that it’s always the same cows that walk on first and the same cows that are the last to get on, they’ve got their own order.”
Brad said the Centrus Composite Rotary platform will give Clinton Farms the ability to expand its dairy operation in the future.
“At the moment we’re milking 500 cows three times a day, it could handle 2000 cows, if we want to get that big some time later, there is plenty of room for expansion.”
The Waikato Milking Systems platform was the only one of its kind in the state of Wisconsin and would become a bit of a showpiece for the company, Brad said.
- HD Stainless Steel Bails
- SmartSPRAY SmartECRs
- Yield Indicators
- NaviGate Herd Management System and the NaviGate Sort Gate