Our customer & 2019 Gold Cup Finalist Liz Birkett

Dairy farmer Liz Birkett standing in field at Rookhaye Estate

Congratulations to ADF customer Liz Birkett at Rookhaye Estate for being shortlisted as a finalist in the 2019 Gold Cup awards.

Returning to the family farm in 2000, Liz has been committed to strengthening the farm business, based at Rookhaye Estate, near Salisbury in Wiltshire. Her focus has always been cow comfort, health and welfare. “We have worked tirelessly to improve the health of our herd and believe that getting that right would be reflected in animal performance and profitability. The 153-cow herd is managed on a high input-high-output system. Our herd averages 10,398kg of milk, at 3.88% fat and 3.24% protein, on twice-a-day milking with a cell count of 112,000 cells/ml,” explains Liz.

Finalist Rookhaye Estate has had the ADF Automatic Dipping & Flushing system installed since September 2010. “At the time of installing the ADF System we were having problems with a high number of mastitis cases and we were manually post dipping teats and rinsing liners. We wanted to automate that process and improve cow health,” says Liz.

“We’ve been able to automate what used to be a very manual process of post dipping teats after milking and rinsing liners between cows. We were always a one man parlour before installing ADF, but now milking time is quicker and more efficient”.

Cow health has certainly improved on Rookhaye Estate. “Mastitis has certainly reduced, this is due to a combination of the ADF System as well as other procedures we put in place to improve mastitis levels. We had around 40% of mastitis cases before, but now we have between 15-20% which is brilliant,” says Liz. Due to this improvement in cow health, Liz has seen a huge reduction in antibiotic use, saving her money on vet bills.

Dairy cows standing in a green field eating grass with trees in background

Not only are the cows healthy and happy, but the milkers are happy too. “Our staff members find the ADF System easy to use and the relief milkers are also impressed with it. Those who had never used it before were pleasantly surprised when they discovered they didn’t have to manually post dip or rinse liners.” The ADF System also helps with the reliability of knowing the milking routine is being done properly. “I find it helps to unify every milking,” explains Liz. “It unifies the milking routine from one milker to the next so I have no doubt that the job is being done properly.”

Liz is delighted to see that the ADF System is still performing as well as it did nearly 10 years ago when it was first installed. “We replaced our yellow clusters recently as they were 10 years old and getting a little worn. Of course we replace our liners regularly. Ordering consumables is very straight forward and we haven’t had any problems with the reliability of the ADF System since installation.”

“Overall the ADF System automates vital steps in the milking routine and I would certainly recommend it to other farmers.”

The prestigious Gold Cup Award is presented by National Milk Records and The Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers (RABDF). The Gold Cup is the premier national dairy herds competition, recognising efficiency in commercial milk production. Entries focus on milk production, somatic cell count and genetic merit data from official milk records. The award continues to best reflect the UK dairy industry and showcases the top herds as examples of good dairy management.

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