Upgrade a step up in farm management

Upgrade a step up in farm management
After a 12-month search Craig Hockly installed the Israeli system Afi milk, which has increased his day to day knowledge of his herd.

Waking far too early to milk his herd of 670 in Hawera, Craig Hockly sought a faster way to allow himself the luxury of a sleep in. The plan originally, he says, was to upgrade from his 40-bale rotary to a 60-bale rotary “just to milk quicker”, but that idea quickly went out the window.
“After looking around for 12 months, I ended up putting in the Afimilk which is an Israeli system,” he says.
The system is equipped with all the bells and whistles alerting Craig to health needs of his herd and individual milk production on a daily basis.
Afimilk milk sensors measure milk yield per cow and can measure fat and protein content (a component of the system that Craig will look to put in in the future) . It also pays special attention to any changes in the milk’s components alerting Craig to any health issues.
Each cow wears a leg band equipped with heat detection, calving alerts, lameness detection and includes a unique ID for each cow which allows fast access to individual cow’s information.
“I’ve got a lot more information day to day instead of relying on four herd tests a year,” Craig says.
“I know everyday what is happening with each cow; if their milk is dropping, their weight, everything. It’s better for day to day operations even if I’m not there for a week I can keep up to date with the information on my phone so I still know what’s going on.”
Since having the new shed installed five years ago, milk production has increased from 430kgMS per cow to around 550kgMS but empty rates have increased as well.
“Before the shed upgrade I was sitting at four to five per cent empty, now I’m sitting around 10%, it’s just a work in progress, also having the run off as well now, that’s only its second season, I’d say it’ll take a couple more years before everything gets ironed out.”
With the runoff, the property totals 210ha of flat to rolling to steep hill country; the dairy platform sits on 190ha.
It’s been in the family for years; Craig and his wife Dee have run it in partnership with his parents but this year they’re taking over fully.
He’s feeling confident with the new shed up and running so it should be a smooth transition and like Craig says, all the money has already been spent.
This year they are milking 670 cows, next year Craig will up that to 685 and will still manage to have a bit more time on his hands thanks to the shed upgrade.
With that extra time, Craig will continue to be involved in coaching his son’s rugby team and will be able to put in some much needed work on his golf swing after finding out he’s “a bit average”, upon joining the local golf club.
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