NZ Dairy Summer 2021

100 | nzdairy RURAL SERVICES » Roaches Concrete Products RCP and the history of the NZ cowshed Virginia Wright Looking at how the work done by Roaches Concrete Products over the years has changed since David’s father started the business in the 50’s is like taking a walk through the history of New Zealand’s cowsheds. Concrete had been used for cow-shed floors since the early 1900’s although cows were still milked by hand and herds were small. Technology and innovation in the use of concrete in the agricultural industry has kept pace with the growth in herd sizes and the need for more speed in the cowsheds, with some herds today as big as 5000. By the 1920’s around half the herds in the country were being machine milked. Walk-through cowsheds, innovative at the time they were introduced because cows no longer had to back in and out of the bail but went through and out the other side, were still common. The advent of the herringbone cowshed saw the milker in a pit with the cows lined up on either side in batches, their udders at the right height for putting on and taking off the milking cups. The Roaches were kept busy, first converting walk-through sheds into herringbones then, through the 60’s and 70’s, building them new. “We made the blocks on our premises then brought them to where we needed them. We poured the floors, built the pit out of the blocks, and then we used to plaster them ready for use,” says David. By 1971 the Roaches were building their first rotary cowshed; that being the next major innovation as milking technology evolved to keep up with the increasing herd sizes. “It was a 16 bail NDA platform for Murray and Ruth Johnson in Dannevirke. The National Dairy Association were one of the Workers on the yellow raised vet platform. pioneers in dairy platforms,” explains David, “and they introduced the turnstile platforms that were the next generation of cowsheds. “Turnstile” was the brand name of the platform.” Ruth is David’s sister and they have since been back to turn that 16 bail into a 40 bail for her son Wayne. Rotaries make milking faster and more gentle on the cows so they’re well liked by people but they didn’t really take off until the 90’s when herds were getting bigger and needing bigger sheds to accommodate them, as David explains. “Herringbones are limited. The biggest herringbone we ever built was a 40 a-side but after that they just get too long to build although there are bigger ones around.” They are nevertheless a cost-effective and reliable set-up and Roaches Concrete Products are still building them regularly. Much bigger numbers can be worked into a rotary set up as David’s most recent construction clearly shows. The bigger a rotary platform the faster it rotates which makes it difficult for the cows to get on and off and necessitates more people to manage the herd. David was working with Nathan Guy who wanted an efficient way to manage the maximum number of cows possible at one time. The net result was two 50 bail platforms under one roof that were constructed for ease of cow flow through milking, and with plenty of innovation designed to help with all that’s involved in running a 2000 strong dairy herd. “it was a pleasure to be trusted with the building of the Guy family’s twin 50 bail rotary platform cowshed,” says David. “It includes two 30,000 litre silos to store the milk, grates that can be raised or lowered according to the height of the operator putting the cups on, and a hydraulic lift between the two platforms with an The inishing touches are being put on a unique twin rotarymilking system commissioned for the Guy Family in Horowhenua. The twin 50-point Orbit Concrete Rotary Systemwas developed byWaikatoMilking Systems and installed by dealers Bromley Dairy and Pumps, andMoa Rotary Platforms. WaikatoMilking Systems Regional Manager for the Lower North Island Ben Frederickson said he and the two dealers worked with the Guy Family’s consultant Paul Phippen to understand what was required for the newmilking plant. Bromley, which is based in Feilding and led by Steve Bromley, took care of the plant and automation installation whileMoa’s Inglewood o ice, led by Nathan Hitchcock, was responsible for the platform installation. Paul and Nathan travelled to Opunake to see another farmwhich recently installed a twin rotary. Ben and Steve then worked on two options. “Option one was a combined systemwhere both platforms were run using the same machine andmilk delivery was linked to supply one singlemilk silo at a time. “Option two involved having independent systems whichmademore sense froman operational point of view and this was the option the Guy Family went with.” Independent systems would allow one to work as a back-up in case the other was out of action. It would also allow the farm to use just one during the shoulder season when cow numbers were lower. It also opened upmore possibilities of farming practices for the future. The farmcould split the herd to have A1 protein cows supplying one vat and A2 protein cows supplying the other, Ben said. Matt Churchill is the head engineer for Moa in Innovative milking system unveiled the Lower North Island and workedwith Roaches Concrete on the platform installation. Both platforms (one clockwise, one anti-clockwise) run on a twin trackmulti-roller systemwhich lowers wear and tear and therefore service costs too. “Havingmultiplemoving rollers distributes the weight of the platformacross more points, taking pressure o themoving parts and drive system,” Ben said. “Also, with un ixed, moving nylon rollers, there’s no need for continuous greasing and track oiling which allows for a pleasantly clean centre pit.” Nick Callow fromBromley led the instalment for themilking plant and automation technology. It included installing the Bail Marshal plug ‘n’ play systemwhich allows the operator to add new automation tech when it suits. The twin rotary was itted with three automation options, ECR Plus electronic cup removers, SmartSPRAY automatic teat spray systemand NaviGATE PremiumHerd Management and 5-way drafting. CowTRAQ™ Collars also link in with the drafting to provide automatic sorting of heat detected animals and animals which show an abnormal health event. “By having the Bail Marshal onboard, it e ectively future proofs the shed because it means other automation options such Electronic MilkMeters can simply be plugged in without costly retro its,” Ben said. Feedback on the project commended all of the installers. “Nick and the Bromley teamwent the extra mile to ensure the systemwas operational by the required deadline. “People have also commented onMoa’s e iciency, superb workmanship and pinpoint accuracy.” area big enough for two vets to be working at once and capable of holding up to six people.” Safe to say that cowsheds and Roaches Concrete Products alike are testament to the growth and innovation that is typical of New Zealand’s dairy industry, they’ve both come a long way since David first worked in the walk-through cowsheds of the day.