Dairy operation attracting international interest

A world first in robotic milking is already paying dividends for the Dacre farmers whose operation could be a template for others worldwide.

Automated milking farms might not be a new idea, but one Southland dairy farm has taken the concept to a whole new level.

Bruce Dinnington and his parents, alan and Noeline, switched their Dacre farm to an automated system in July last year and have already been blown away by the results. but there’s one unique element of this setup – believed to be a world first – that the machine’s manufacturer is keeping a close eye on, with a view to selling it to the rest of the world.

“The difference with ours is everything is under the one roof,” Mr Dinnington said. “You’ve got the winter barn down the far end which has their own cubicle (for the cows) that they can sit in, the feed down the far end and you have the robots under one roof, but they can also go outside and do the grazing outside.”

Mr Dinnington said there were operations in New Zealand that utilised robots inside a barn like his, but those cows could not get outside.

“They’re inside 24 hours a day all year round which is what is common overseas all over in europe as that’s the only way they do it,” he said.

Others had a robotic milking shed but the wintering shed about 50 metres away.

“So this is the first setup that is fully combining them both. as we understand, it’s virtually one of the first in the world,” he said.

The Netherlands, in particular, was watching the Dinnington’s operation closely because there were big premiums paid there for milk from cows that could go outside and eat grass for four hours a day for four months of the year.

“It’s far greater than organics or anything else like that. So Holland is looking very closely at us how they can incorporate with their systems…as to what sort of modifications and how to change it and how to adapt it to overseas.”

This article was originally written for The Advocate. You can read the published version here

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