Largest milking parlour in Central Africa to be established in Zambia
By Wallace Mawire
ZAMBEEF Products’ Kalundu Dairy Farm is gearing up for industrialisation of the local dairy sector with the construction of the largest state-of-the-art rotary milking parlour in Zambia and Central Africa.
It is reported that the new $1,5 million facility in Chisamba will give the food processing and retailing company the capacity to milk up to 2,500 cows a day in future.
“This is an exciting chapter in Zambeef’s history and in the wider industry, and more so for Zambeef. The new systems and technologies will enable the management of larger herds, which is important for efficiency and growth in the industry,” said Zambeef head of retailing, marketing and corporate affairs Felix Lupindula.
The facility will use the same technology found in leading milk-producing countries such as New Zealand, complete with computerised sensors to assist Zambeef’s veterinary department and staff in identifying areas needing attention.
It is also reported that each cow will be fitted with a monitor or transponder, which collects data on the status of its well-being at every milking session.
The highly advanced parlour allows for a closed herd system that serves to prevent animal-to-animal or human-to-animal transmissions of disease, reinforcing Kalundu Dairy Farm’s strict adherence to high bio-security measures.
It is reported that happy cows are known to have a higher production output, the new system will be more “cow friendly” as it is quicker than the previous one and more relaxing.
Every cow stands separate, so they are not squeezing on each other, but still kept together. Plans are also underway to install fans in the parlour to help cool down the cows during the much hotter summer months.
The parlour will have a single entry and exit point, with the cows walking onto a rotating platform that then carries them to where the operator is waiting to carry out the milking process.
The milk is then transferred directly from the cows into bulk milk tanks which are then delivered to Zambeef’s milk processing plant at nearby Huntley Farm. The constant in-and-out flow of the cows will help to contribute to a high throughput.
Upon completion of the milking, the cows are guided by electronic positioning to different gates where they can be called up for particular procedures, such as inoculation or artificial insemination.
The cows go over a weigh scale every time they visit the milking parlour, making it possible to keep a weight record for every animal which allows for the quick identification of sick animals as they tend to lose condition, as well as helping to monitor their feeding and nutrition.
“The facility is giving us so much more than the old facility. On this new system we can get information from every cow, every day, every milking, it gives us milk yield, peak yield in that session, duration of the milk, the conductivity of the milk which is the indication of mastitis and also blood levels, if we can detect issues with a cow, that ensure the very highest quality of products that we supply to the consumer,” said Kalundu Dairy Manager Willa Vorster.
The parlour will also include a maximised cooling system designed to maintain the integrity and freshness of the milk, with storage tank temperatures kept at regulated optimum levels.
It is reported that the new development will enable the food company to milk up to 2,500 cows in any given session, effectively reducing the amount of time taken to milk all the cows, hours which can then be invested in other farming activities on the site.
Operating at full capacity, the rotary plant will enable Zambeef to produce as much 60,000 litres of milk a day to feed into its 100,000 litres installed capacity milk processing plant at Huntley Farm, with a further 30,000 output supplemented by small-scale farmers, in order to boost the current output of 23,000 litres, which is currently exceeded by market demand.
Zambeef also hopes that its suppliers and other farmers in the sector will benefit from the expertise and technology through its already established familiarisation programmes at Kalundu Dairy Farm.
It is reported that in addition to the new parlour, plans are in place to construct a further four barns, each with a capacity to house 300 cows at a time, in anticipation of the rotary’s increased capacity of milking up to 2,500 cattle over the coming years.
“The dairy industry in Zambia has great potential with much room for growth and Zambeef remains committed to making key investments, such as the rotary milk plant, which plays a key role in propelling that growth forward,” said Mr Lupindula.