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Extracted from the Dairy Extra - Autumn 2014

ADF Milking – one year on

One year on from winning the Cream Awards for Innovation, ADF Milking continues to assist dairy farmers to have successful businesses. Heather Briggs reports.

How do they do this? It’s the unique automatic dipping and flushing system that helps prevent mastitis, says ADF. “Dairy farmers have little control over the price at which they can sell their products,” says James Duke, who founded the company. “But they have a great deal of control over their costs of production.”

He observes that the award-winning ADF system increases efficiency and profitability within the parlour as it dramatically reduces the incidence of mastitis by applying a sanitiser immediately after milking, protecting the teat when it is at its most vulnerable. “This is particularly important as at this precise moment the teat is wide open and subject to negative pressure from within the udder, encouraging bacteria from the teat end to migrate into the udder, where they can quickly proliferate,” explains Mr Duke, pointing out that when milking is done manually, it is difficult to achieve timely dipping.

“Although cows go into the parlour in order, they do not release their milk at the same speed, so it is almost impossible for staff to get round to each one as they finish. “But time is of the essence because if the teat dip is not applied immediately, microorganisms can move quickly and enter the teat canal.”

He notes that the ADF system dips from the top to the bottom so that any harmful bacteria are washed away from the teat end. In addition, cross-contamination between cows is controlled because the milking liners are automatically sanitised between each milking.

Moving on to talk about on-farm investment, he emphasises that the prime consideration should be the return on investment rather than the capital cost. “The capital cost is irrelevant if that product returns five times that figure. “Our customers tend to be highly professional farmers who have a good understanding of agribusiness, which means they are well aware of the costs and benefits of cattle healthcare.”

This means that when they are considering buying equipment they look at more than just the capital cost of buying; weighing up cost: benefits such as payback time on investment and also appreciating those of automating a manual process.

“Sometimes farmers need to think through their true costs of the method they are already using; assigning labour its due value to the business and assessing cow longevity and its impact on the success of the enterprise.

“Don’t forget that cow profitability peaks at around six or seven years. This is when depreciation is slowest and output is still high. If you cull cows early, then you are throwing away all that profitability. As we all know, you need to milk cows and not heifers.”

He adds that other benefits should be taken into consideration regarding cow longevity, such as the sale of surplus heifers from a healthy herd or the use of surplus stock to grow the enterprise.

Overall, the key to a successful dairy business is having healthy cows. “The great thing is that it is our customers and their herd who gain the most from installing the ADF system.”

METEORIC GROWTH IN SALES

ADF Milking continues to grow in the UK as word-of-mouth spreads the farmers’ success stories.

But growth is not confined to the UK. Over the past five years, ADF Milking have seen a huge increase in exports, with five more countries, including France, Italy and Uruguay, signing up for their innovative system, “A cow is a cow – and this doesn’t change whether you are in the heights of the Andes or rural Britain,” says Mr Duke.

“We always seek to ensure that we add value and support the customer regardless of where they are.” He considers the company to be part of the farm’s dairy team. “It is a partnership because our goal is the same as that of the dairy farmers, and that is to have healthy cows.”

And healthy cows mean successful dairy farms, resulting in others looking to see how they can also achieve success. “Of course our contribution is not the only element necessary for cattle health, but it plays a very important part.

“At the end of the day, it’s not the purchase price you pay that really matters; the success of that product will be based upon the value your customers receive from the product over time, how it will add value to what they are producing and to their enterprise.

“Dairy farmers need tools to dramatically enhance the efficiency of their farms and ultimately lower the cost of production.”

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