It is a well-known fact that dairy farmers are under enormous pressure to survive. However, several dairy farmers still produce milk successfully, despite numerous challenges in the industry. If a milk producer wants to be successful, every link in the production chain must be fully functional and make financial sense.
Japie Nel, a dairy farmer and co-owner of Vaalharts Dairies near Schweizer-Reneke, says the milking parlour together with the milking machine and other equipment, the cows and the workers certainly are the most important links. “The dairy farmer who succeeds in connecting these links, has the best chance of having a profitable dairy business.”
Because dairy farming is a labour-intensive, seven-days-a-week business with a fixed routine, a team of well-trained, disciplined workers is vital. Cows must be milked at least twice daily and it is necessary to work after-hours.
Japie says everything comes at a price and requires efficient management of staff. Technology can be improved to reduce the amount of manual labour, but the balance between infrastructure and milk production figures must make financial sense.
Milking parlour and equipment
The milking parlour on a dairy farm is where the marketable product is harvested. It is used daily – hopefully over a long period. The layout of the parlour and the choice of equipment should therefore be well planned during the implementation of such a production unit.
The milking parlour must be reliable, user-friendly and designed to minimise stress to the animals. The milk should be transferred from the cow’s udder to the cooling tank as effectively and hygienically as possible.
Different options are available with regard to milking systems, but the most common ones used by producers are herringbone, tandem and rotary systems.