Inside Dairy October-November 2020

Benefits from top to bottom Late last season, Dairy Holdings began adopting the MaxT milking approach across its farm portfolio. Already, the company’s seeing multiple benefits at all levels of the business.

“It’s a no brainer.” That’s what Dairy Holdings Limited (DHL) chief operating officer Blair Robinson thought when he first heard about the MaxT (maximum milking time) approach to milking efficiency. It wasn’t only the time savings and associated benefits for people and cows that captured Blair’s enthusiasm, though – it was MaxT’s ability to be adapted to farms of all sizes and setups, without major expense. “Milksmart MaxT fits the DHL Strategy to focus on its people’s training, upskilling and growth through the application of simple repeatable processes to deliver efficient results at scale,” says Blair. DHL’s head office is based in Ashburton. Together, its 60 pasture-based farms produce 17 million kg MS/year from 50,000 milking cows, with most supplying Fonterra. “Our largest farm has 1450 cows with a 50-bail rotary, down to a farm with 380 cows using a herringbone shed,” Blair says. “The principles of MaxT can be applied to them all.” Maxing up on MaxT Blair says that, before last season, Dairy Holdings had the odd operator doing MaxT to a certain degree, but it certainly wasn’t consistent across the business. After attending a DairyNZ Milksmart field day featuring QCONZ consultant Josh Wheeler,

DHL's COO Blair Robinson is impressed by MaxT's adaptability and low cost.

“Right away, cow flow into and out of the shed – especially into it – improved massively.”

DHL farm supervisor Mick O’Connor says MaxT is “a good system with a pile of science behind it”.

Dairy Holdings held their own field days for staff, extending invites to surrounding farmers too. “It’s early days yet,” says Blair, “but I’m hoping MaxT will gain on average a half-hour saving on each milking across our 60 farms, over 270 days in milk. That will also lead to happier people and healthier cows – and help us and the sector attract and retain people, for little or no cost. “However, if the sole benefit out of doing this is giving more time back to our people, then that’s enough for us to try MaxT. Everything on top of that is just a bonus.” Powerful outcomes Mick O’Connor, a supervisor for DHL since 2014, oversees 14

farms in mid-Canterbury (10 contract milkers, two sharemilkers and two managers). “I can’t really see any negatives from using MaxT, including on somatic cell counts (SCC) or production,” says Mick. “It’s a good system with a pile of science behind it, which gets you thinking about efficiencies across the whole farm system.” Initially, Mick’s group of contractors were 50/50 on the idea of MaxT. Then they saw others benefitting from it. “One guy with 950 cows and a 48-bail rotary had a big power


Inside Dairy | October/November 2020

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