Phil Bown’s team at his family run Henley Grove Farm in Somerset are twice as happy milking their 550 strong herd now, compared to the spring of last year. Why? The supply and installation of two DeLaval ML3100 Midiline swing over parlours from the pros at T H WHITE Dairy certainly has a lot to do with it.
Not only did Phil convert his existing 32 parlour to a 16/32 swing over – he also made room to install a second 16/32 swing over parlour next door! The new set-up has seen Phil enjoy multiple benefits this year which has had a positive effect on his bottom-line. Traditional building works took the bulk of the conversion timetable, with the parlour install taking just a few short weeks in April 2021.
“Previously, we had two staff working the one parlour, which wasn’t ideal. Aside from them treading on each other’s toes, the cows were standing around for too long and we just weren’t getting through the numbers quickly enough,” he says.
Side-by-side throughput has transformed the process, and Phil now has the flexibility to milk 32 cows simultaneously, working through approximately 450 cattle in 2.5hrs.
Taking out the central unit of the old parlour gave Phil a chance to explore the best way to integrate automation into his new set-up. “We wanted to stick with conventional not robotic milking systems, replicating what worked and discarding what didn’t – rather than going for ‘total automation’ just for the sake of it.” Key functionality was retained, with milk meters and individual feeding systems playing a big part in the new install. Another bonus with the ML3100 system, is the potential for further automation to be added as and when necessary.
“Quicker throughput has also seen benefits in terms of animal welfare, with the cows standing around a lot less with the swing over system” he adds. “On top of that, we’ve found it much easier to manage staff working hours, with shorter shift patterns and more attractive milking schedules having a big knock-on effect when it came to recruiting our new team member”.
The ML3100 is the top spec system in the range and the Midiline configuration was the obvious choice for Phil. “Reliability has been hugely impressive”, he says. Servicing is undertaken annually by T H WHITE Dairy engineers, with the system coming through its first service in the last quarter with no major issues.
T H WHITE Dairy also installed the feeding system, which accurately dispenses 1,000t of cake every year without downtime or overspill, and a 20,500L capacity bulk tank. Further energy saving efficiencies are underway with the tank, providing more efficient milk cooling via a bespoke energy recovery system. Cool work all round!