Thursday, 17 February 2011 12:05

Milking more cows in less time

Written by 
Liam Ryan with his water re-use yard cleaning system Liam Ryan with his water re-use yard cleaning system

LIKE MANY dairy farmers, Grassmere’s Liam Ryan struggles to find the right mix of work and lifestyle priorities.

But thanks to a new automated rotary dairy and an innovative water reclamation system, Ryan is milking more cows in less time and finding more space for himself and his family.

Ryan, 28, has been on the farm since 2003 after he completed his Agricultural Science Degree at the University of Melbourne. The main farm covers 172ha of prime Western District dairying country and Ryan has recently leased an additional 42ha. He has been milking 450 cows but aims to increase that to 520 this year.

The farm was originally an out paddock for the property owned by his parents Basil and Marcia.

“We couldn’t expand on mum and dad’s land (76ha, plus a leased 72ha out paddock) and the dairy was 20 years old and basically stuffed,” Ryan says.

So the decision was made to develop the new dairy on his larger property.

“I wanted to get to the stage where we’d be big enough to employ people to get the work-lifestyle balance right,” he says. “Between me and dad we were doing everything. Now we’ve put on a school-based apprentice in June and we’ve just had another apprentice start with us.”

In designing the dairy, automation and making it a “one-person shed” were paramount in Ryan’s thinking.

“I wanted one person to be able to do it all. A lot aim for that but don’t succeed because of issues with mastitis which means they have to have someone to take the cups off to check the cows. We’ve got milk meters and low rates of mastitis so we’ve managed okay.

“We wanted to save cost and time and we have. Basically all you have to do is put the cups on.”

Ryan’s features automatic cup removal, feeding, teat spraying and drafting.

He now milks about 300 cows per hour, a big improvement on the 180 put through the old dairy.

He is one of a number of dairy farmers in the region to install an automated water reclamation system for his milking plant.

With limited groundwater in the area, the Green Cleaning System was a wise investment.

“The groundwater is just enough for watering cattle,” Ryan says.

The re-use system works by reclaiming the acid and alkali cycles of the wash process. The system features three storage tanks to deliver the water required for the cleaning process.

He now uses about 7000 litres per year of freshwater for the acid and alkali wash cycles; compared to about 400 litres daily in a conventional system.

“It has been a massive saving in freshwater plus we have savings in heating and chemical costs.”

The farm’s milk quality tests have been consistently premium since installation of the new system and Ryan is pleased with the cleaning results.

“It doesn’t take much work, just checking the pH levels, changing the cold and hot water once or twice a year each and topping the hot alkali up fortnightly to cover evaporation.”

The new dairy has also resulted in time savings for cleaning up, thanks largely to a circular holding yard washing system on the backing gate and the automatic flood wash on the feed pad which source recycled water from the second effluent pond.

“The clean-up takes us about 15 minutes as opposed to 45 minutes in the old dairy,” he says.

Ryan remains keen to implement new environmentally friendly, labour saving initiatives and is taking part in a WestVic Dairy Focus Farm group to look at other options.

“It’s good to discuss ideas and see how others are doing things and then maybe adapt them to your own system,” he says.

One of his next projects is to put in an irrigation line to spread his recycled effluent over a larger area of the farm.

The improvements have helped Ryan find time for lifestyle priorities.

He and wife Kim are starting to plan an around Australia holiday and he now has time to return to the football field. The North Warrnambool Eagles player jointly shared the Hampden Football League 2010 best and fairest award with another dairy farmer, Levi Dare, from Cobden.

More like this

More from this category

Increased Euro dairy production no threat

 

THE MOVE to a more liberal market regime in European dairy will not pose a significant threat to the Australian industry, according to an international dairy specialist.

Northern NSW grass factory

UP ON the Northern Rivers of NSW – the top, eastern corner that abuts Queensland and the Gold Coast – they reckon Cory Crosthwaite is far and away the best grass grower around.

The Tweedside dairy’s 94ha, all sandy loam river flats apart from 8ha of red volcanic ‘hill’, produces more than 20,000kg of dry matter/ha a year, while pastures on your average dairy farm in the region do around 3500kgDM/ha/year. 

Effluent on pasture returns nutrients

THE RE-USE of second pond effluent back onto pasture will help return valuable nutrients to the soil, a six-year study has found.

The study at the DemoDAIRY research and demonstration farm at Terang tested a range of application rates of second pond effluent to pasture to determine how much can be safely applied.

It recommended that correct use of second pond effluent should be encouraged on dairy farms but found applying too much on the same land could have negative environmental impacts.

Fighting kikuyu invasion

A WEST Australia farmer is planning high sugar grass trials with the aim of holding back the kikuyu invasion of his dairy farm south of Perth.

Victor Rodwell, who milks 840 Holstein Friesians and crossbreds on a dairy platform of 250ha at Boyanup, 200km south of Perth, plans to sow more AberMagic high sugar ryegrass this autumn for its persistent and dense tiller and root growth, as well as its high nutritional value.

Change your rhythm to make lasting changes

I WAS recently informed that over 90% of what we do and how we do it is out of habit or routine and very little is spontaneous or based on the information on hand at the time.

Initially I wanted to challenge this suggestion but found that it is true in my life.

Summer rain can herald problems for livestock

THE VICTORIAN Department of Primary Industries (DPI) is advising livestock producers that while the recent rain could provide valuable green feed, they need to keep close watch on their stock to avoid possible health problems.

MANY FARM tracks are in need of serious maintenance after the wet conditions prevalent across most of Australia last year. Following are some practical tips that will hopefully help save time and money when the season permits some repair work.

 

The Stony Rises, near Colac, are aptly named.  While the soil is rich with nutrients and the rainfall consistently good, the land is disrupted by a vast number of basalt rocks caused by volcanic activity from thousands of years ago.

During the past month, I have received many calls regarding employment – the majority seeking clarification from people on whether they are employing or being employed correctly.

A new scanning device fitted to a four-wheel motorbike could revolutionise the way landholders   plan their attacks on red-headed cockchafers.

 

As we head out of the wettest summer on record how do we capitalise on the good conditions and turn it into ongoing benefit for our business?

WITH LAND prices of $19,000/hectare throughout Western Victoria, dairy farmers Mark and Kim Bayne were forced to think outside the square to get their own farm.

Leave a comment

Make sure you enter the (*) required information where indicated.\nBasic HTML code is allowed.

» Get social

When butter and chocolate collide

TWO New Zealand companies Lewis Road Creamery and Whittakers have teamed up to deliver what must be every dairy lover’s dream: chocolate butter.

» E-Newsletter

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required