It’s been 15 months since we upgraded our dairy and it’s made a big difference for everyone. We have gone from 12 goats up on the line and eight milking cups, to 12 cups with 24 goats up. More space for everyone and a better feeding system – more ergonomic and efficient for humans, less stress and standing about for the goats.
Watch our new dairy in action.
Presently we are milking 92 goats, seven are our oldest does – the blue collars – who are nine years old. Even with these ‘lower producers’ the milking herd is giving us around 140 litres a day. Not bad, especially when you consider that most of our herd is “milked through” and some goats have only ever had one kidding to date. We are selective with our breeding, so after their first kidding, most of the does are four years old before they have their next kid. This time allows us to keep a longer record of performance and traits and means we can select our goats to best breed from. This was something we observed in WA when we worked there. We don’t want to grow our herd, well, we don’t want to grow the numbers of goats in our herd over time, but we do want to grow the milk quality and quantity and herd health and resilience. We can afford to be selective and take the time for it.
But back to the new, improved dairy. It’s wider, for a start (our goats are large framed compared to the norm; they don’t kid until they are two years old) so more space for them, and for us as we feed out with our nifty trolley (sure beats the old wheelbarrow and scoop!). The milking cups slip off automatically and we can adjust their pressure – both of these factors mean less pressure on the udder, literally. Most dairies work at a pressure of 51kpa. We try for 36kpa. We want to be gentle on the udder sphincter and not cause damage and untoward, unavoidable problems. The goats milk just as well.
Our higher viewing platform means we can see what they are eating and whatever else is happening. It’s a good height for the milker to operate at. The swing door at the end of the line operates smoothly; no wire hook or mesh or make-do setup there either. We have a you-beaut flushing system, swirling down the line in a circulating wave. We can see what each goat, and the line, is producing on the digital display.
So, how do you keep a dairy herd milking when you are putting in a new dairy? Ask your very good neighbour. Mark Collison helped us enormously. We kept milking on our old dairy – displaced and sidelined, very cramped – whilst he installed the new. It took a week, ‘only’ 14 milkings to install. Mark did a fantastic job.
Now the goats aren’t standing about in the milking shed for three hours from go to whoa. Cups on and off is about 90 minutes. We still get the same opportunity to observe what’s happening with the herd and individuals, and the goats get the same time to eat. Our efficiencies have improved enormously.
Kidding starts in one month, the new stand will be greatly appreciated then.