WOOSTER, Ohio — Students at Ohio State University’s Agricultural Technical Institute will be milking the college’s dairy herd in style for the next several years.
Thanks to a $250,000 donation from Dairymaster-USA, the ATI is making use of a new, swing-10 parlor fully equipped with computerized cow monitors, and three receiver groups, which allow students to separate milk from different breeds of cows, or by different levels of butterfat.
The unit was installed about a month ago and ATI herdsman Gary Crocker said it already has cut milking time by about an hour. The college milks about 110 cows.
“It’s real automated, it talks to you and tells you most of the things you want to know,” Crocker said, pointing to the digital computer units that monitor each cow.
The cows enter on their own and automatically lock themselves into place, allowing students to place the milkers over their teats, from behind the cows. Crocker said teat health already has improved, because of improvements in the pulsation of the unit and its massaging capabilities.
Dairymaster products are manufactured in Ireland, but the unit was donated through Ohio salesman Mike Piche. It will be serviced locally by Kidron Supply of Wayne County, Ohio, which already has installed units of this size, as well as the much larger 20-cow units.
Roland Geiser, owner of Kidron Supply, said the ability to separate milk and the electronic identification of cows and records sets Dairymaster apart.
“It’s different than what they (consumers) would find if they went looking anywhere else,” he said.
ATI Director Stephen Nameth said the new unit is a “win-win — there’s no question about it.”
Dairymaster wins because it gets advertisement to students and the public, and students win because they’re being exposed to a way of milking that is modern and up to date.
“It brings our parlor up to state-of the-art capabilities,” Nameth said. “That’s always important for us technology-wise, to have the latest.”
The new unit replaces a double-six herringbone parlor, and can easily be managed by one student per milking.
Crocker and Nameth said there was some work required to fit the unit inside the parlor, including expanding part of the ceiling and a wall. But Nameth said the investment was well worth the gift of the new unit.
The unit will easily fit any body-length of cow, which Crocker said is important, given the physical differences between the Holstein, Brown Swiss and Jersey breeds.
Manure is mostly caught in a waste chute, and operators are less likely to be kicked, because everything is done at a lower level, and cows are easy to access.
An open house is planned for later this year, with the date still to be decided.