Enterprising couple’s rubber matting expands well beyond the cow shed
Necessity is the mother of invention and for Otago farmers Paul and Kyllee Henton, their farm’s wet conditions and a concern for their cows comfort gave rise to the development of a product with wide application.
Not surprisingly, the product is called Comfy Cows Rubber Matting and was originally designed by the enterprising couple to fit inside their new covered cow barn, when they were disappointed with products already on the market.
“Paul’s brother has been in China for over 25 years in manufacturing and so he researched rubber manufacturing companies over there and found a high quality manufacturer for us,” says Kyllee.
After travelling to China to inspect the manufacturing facilities and meet its owners, Paul set about designing a product specifically for the comfort of his cows.
“Paul wanted the cow to be happy with their grip on the rubber mat.
“In order for the cow to get a good grip the mat needs to be able to sink under their feet a wee bit. Our mat is 30mm thick – so thicker than most products on the market and it has our own compression pattern design underneath.
“A low profile pattern on top of the matting ensures easy cleaning, in our case a flood wash.”
Extremely happy with the results after three years’ use, Kyllee says the mats still look very new.
Owning the mould, Paul and Kyllee are now manufacturing to order, importing the finished product under the name of Agri-Tech Imports.
All standard stock is manufactured with UV stabaliser but can be manufactured without if preferred.
With stock held in store in Auckland and Otago, shipments can be made both north and south.
“The matting has a broad range of applications in addition to dairy and cow barns,” explains Kyllee. “We do a lot of entrances and exits from rotary sheds, there’s a small piggery using them instead of straw flooring and people are starting to put them into stables instead of shavings and sawdust.
“They are also going into deer weaner pens to help protect the young deer’s hooves.”
And the application is not just for animals – humans can benefit too with some going into home gymnasiums and two dairy farmers opting to use them as anti-fatigue mats in the pit of their herringbone shed.
Weighing in at 53 kilos the mats are a solid piece of durable rubber that comes in 2.1sqm tightly interlocking sections.
A veterinarian by training, Kyllee went to vet school specifically so that she could follow the dairy path.
Farming in Kelso on their 184 hectare milking platform – with two nearby support blocks – Kyllee and Paul peak milk 580 cows, with an average production of 550kgMS/cow.
“We recently shifted away from Fonterra to go to Matarua Valley Milk, a small boutique dairy factory just out of Gore. It’s one of the most sophisticated dairy plants in the world with all GEA equipment and designed for the production of high quality nutritional dairy-based products.”
In addition to the cows, improving systems is one of the things about dairy farming that Kyllee feels passionate about.
“There’s a constant intellectual challenge identifying the strengths and weaknesses in the system and improving them.”
Working as a team, a love for the cows and a drive to improve what they do has reaped rewards for the enterprising couple, something the cows can take comfort in.