What does your team do and why?
We focus on the benefits improved milking efficiency can have on a farm’s people, animals and infrastructure. Some have expertise in milking shed design, some with milk routines (how to milk effectively, cup effectively, how you walk around the dairy shed), some in stockmanship, some people management and others are mastitis experts.
Milksmart is an efficiency/productivity programme (especially labour efficiency) which is why its project management sits under DairyNZ’s People Team. Milking efficiency is one of the great ‘wins’ dairy farmers can have – with virtually no extra cost attached to trying it – and it can produce life-changing results for everyone on-farm.
Tell us something interesting about your team.
We have lots of highly-animated, healthy debates, challenging each other’s viewpoints, which makes the team very strong. We’ve been working together for a few years now. Everyone knows everybody else’s quirks and areas of expertise. By constantly pushing ourselves, we’re creating tightly-crafted advice for farmers.
What kind of work do you do and how is it used?
We summarise research on milking and ensure farmers have practical access to this research, through webpages, events and other initiatives. This year we pared Milksmart back to the absolute core competencies related to achieving efficient milking. For example, rotary platform speed, bunny hopping, use of MaxT and milking routine time. Our goal was to reduce the hours worked on-farm through more efficient milkings.
What do people think about what you’re doing?
Our farmers have told us they’ve been finding it an incredibly positive experience. The farmers who come along to Milksmart events, including our 10 events this year, gave very positive feedback. There are a lot of myths out there about milking efficiency and we’re working hard to turn that around. Our website information is also a big part of that.
What’s something your team is proud of achieving in the past 12 months?
This year we took 10 farms from throughout New Zealand and worked with them to produce case studies. Josh Wheeler from Quality Consultants New Zealand Ltd, a recognised specialist in this area, went in and made changes on those farms. The average saving was an hour each milking – while maintaining milk production and animal health. A great result for the people on those farms!
How can farmers get in touch with your team?
Read more about the Milksmart approach and our 2018 Milksmart case studies at dairynz.co.nz/milking
This article was originally published in Inside Dairy October 2018