Robotic farm could attract big business buyers and potential partners

Bayley’s rural agent George Morris, said the “unique” Riverholme Pastures dairy farm was the first place on the South Island to introduce a DeLaval voluntary milking system.

At the Pleasant Point operation, cows walked themselves to the shed and were were processed using fully-automated milking units, said Morris.

Cows wandered into the shed and were milked when they were ready, Bayley’s rural agent George Morris said.

Morris said, to his knowledge, the farm was a “one-of-a-kind [in South Canterbury]”.

“It’s unique compared to a traditional dairy farm [and] compared to most robotic farms as well, in that the only difference from the traditional dairy plant is that the plant and dairy shed is robotic.

“I wonder if there will be a few corporates interested, because it’s a bit of a showcase, it’s just hard to know who the main players are going to be at this stage.

“It’s beyond your typical dairy farm buy, it requires somebody that’s interested in technology, and obviously the robotic side requires a bit of getting your head around.”

Morris said stock were rotated between the farm’s paddocks by computerised selection gates.

Current owner Alvin Reid, who was based near Wanaka, could monitor the entire system, on strategically placed cameras, from his computer screen at home.

Morris said the farming operation up for sale incorporated three separate land holdings. The main 155ha dairy operation, incorporating the robotic shed had a current capital value of $5.98 million. That value did not include the 57ha unit used for rearing young stock, and a 78ha unit used for growing feed and rearing stock in winter.

Morris said it was marketing all three as as a “whole package … it works well as a business having the run off land so close.”

“If someone doesn’t have the appetite for the whole lot certainly options will be considered.”

Morris said one option Reid and his wife Judith would look at would be entering into an “equity management partnership”

“The advantage of that is Alvin’s expertise on the robotic side of things,” Morris said.

He didn’t envisage the operation being suited to overseas buyers, however foreign investors might be interested in coming on board as equity partners.

“Normally with overseas investment [buyers] they have to show there will be an increase in productivity along with other bits and pieces, on that farm the work’s been done.

Reid had two other farms, one at Winchester, and the other between Geraldine and Fairlie, that were staffed by his children, Morris said.

This farm was the last one Reid owned and was still running.

Morris kept mum on exactly how much the farm was on the market for, however he said the robotic milking system cost in the region of $400,000 more than a conventional 50-bail rotary shed to install,

“The voluntary milking system delivers long-term labour-savings, in conjunction with increased productivity, and better animal welfare.

Those farmers using the DeLaval system credit the increased output on running a calmer herd milking at optimum periods in the day, and an extension to a cow’s milking life.”

Morris said offers for the operation close at 4pm on December 14.



Source: Stuff


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