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DAIRY PEOPLE » Damian & Jane Roper


NZ Dairy

Left: The new rotary dairy shed on Damian and Jane Roper’s South Taranaki farm. Right: The Roper family...from left, Jack, Adelaide, Harriet, Jane and Damian.

Best practice top of wish list Kelly Deeks

then the farm next door to that in 2008. “We combined the two farms to improve efficiency right across the board,” says Damian Roper. “Also, we had two old herringbone dairy sheds, and with compliance costs creeping up and getting stricter and stricter, we could have thrown $100,000 at each shed and upgraded them. “But we still would have been left with two old sheds, so we bit the bullet and spent $1.8 million. We did the job properly and complied with all Fonterra regulations around milk quality and water quality, and environmental regulations.”

Damian and Jane Roper had best practice and efficiency in mind when they undertook a project to combine their two, small dairy farms into one 490-cow unit. The new farm was operational in August last year and is now into its second season. The Ropers are 50:50 sharemilkers milking 420 cows on Grahame and Diane Lance’s Waverley farm, where they have been for the past 16 years. They bought their first farm, at Alton, in 2006,

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After building a new dairy shed, silage bunkers, and feedpad, he says he would tell anyone undertaking A similar project that a lot of things will happen that haven’t been anticipated, or budgeted for. “Whether it’s the weather, or contractors not turning up, or just little issues, the project took a bit longer and went a bit over budget in a few areas. But the overall end-result, we’re 110% happy with it.” He attributes the highly satisfactory result to the 12 months of planning behind the project. He and Jane looked at other dairy sheds and talked to the owners to find out what they would have done differently and why. Then, unable to find a builder who would build their shed the way they wanted, they approached Waikato Milking Systems, and with the help of project manager Alan Moulder, got the shed they wanted. “We’ve got a light, airy shed,” Damian Roper says. “I had to be able to swing a dead cat in every corner. I measured it out, but I didn’t use a proper cat.” The pump room was also a priority, and Roper needed it to be comprehensive, dry, and sealed, with fuse boxes and pumps easy to find. As improving efficiency was the drive behind the whole project, the yard needed an automated

washing system so that 30 minutes of hosing-down time could be saved after each milking. The ‘vet area’ had to be user friendly, and the Ropers sought advice from the Hawera branch of Taranaki Veterinary on what their vet staff would like to see incorporated. “They are a major part of our business, so making it easier for them to do their job makes them a happy business partner,” Roper says. “The shed also had to be suitable for our sharemilkers, Dan and Michelle Payton. We wanted quick milkings, and we’ve got them down to an hour and a quarter. That’s one of the reasons we didn’t have to put a toilet in the shed.” Farm efficiency has also been improved through new silage bunkers and a feedpad. “Feeding in the paddocks, we used to lose between 15 and 20 per cent of our maize and grass silage,” Roper says. “That’s now down to 5% wastage, and it’s had a huge economic impact on our business. “With our investment into our concrete, silage bunkers, our wastage is now very minimal – one to two per cent. With the old dirt sides, wastage could be 10% or 15%, and there was room for spores and bugs to grow.” The Roper’s development project has also seen a 1.4ha wetland created on the farm, which they are gifting to the Queen Elizabeth II National Trust.

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Spring 2015

The father of all dairy sheds

Don Chapman found Kiwis enjoyed milking in his sheds so much he has franchised his designs. Franchisees tell their stories: Pages 35-38.


Passion dulled by compliance - PAGE 5

First lady settles in top seat - PAGE 20

• Can apply rates below 7mm/per hr and depths down to 3mm, while still dealing with raw effluent • The GBMagnum has a mounted rain gun to provide twice the application area you would cover with a conventional travelling irrigator • Low Application rates, while cutting down the labour input

Effluent cleaner a way forward - PAGE 26

Getting the best from professionals - PAGE 57

Profile for Waterford Press Limited

NZ Dairy - Spring 2015  

NZ Dairy - Spring 2015