Case Study

Phillip and Sharon Dench – Crossroads Farm Te Kawa


“It’s really future-proofed the farm and we’re rapt, we couldn’t be happier.”

Seeing a Waikato Milking Systems Rotary in operation was enough to convince Phillip & Sharon Dench it was the way to go.

In 2016 Philip and Sharon were faced with a total upgrade of the infrastructure of their Te Kawa dairy farm – effluent system, feed pad and dairy.

Philip recalls it was taking two people 3.5 hours twice a day to milk the then herd of 780 cows through the 50 a side herringbone with another member of the team bringing in the second mob.  

We watched a milking in the neighbours 60 bail Waikato Milking Systems rotary – and that convinced me us was the way to go. I wanted a dairy with technology which could easily be upgraded so the shed would always be current. Waikato Milking Systems came highly recommended by all the farmers I talked to. It’s a New Zealand owned company, which I liked, which equates to good backup and I liked the simplicity, strength and sophistication of the gear”.

With this in mind Philip and Sharon opted for a 54 bail Orbit Concrete Rotary platform. They included SmartD-TECT (mastitis alert system), Smart ECR (automatic cup removers), BailGates, Stainless steel double bank cooler, SmartSPRAY bullets. 

The new Rotary milked 680 cows in the first season (2017) rising to 780 with the potential to increase to a maximum of 1000 cows.

Two Operator Consoles display real time milking information and are positioned at cups on and cups off. This provide the operator/s with the flexibility to access a console on either side of the bridge. A keyboard at each console allows the operator/s to quickly enter commands, for example, to enter a treatment, or automatically sort cows as they walk through the sort gate. The advantage is that an operator doesn’t have to rush into the parlour office to set up the commands on a PC.

Transitioning cows which have only been milked in a Herringbone is often described as “a challenge requiring additional manpower” but Philip says it was “incredibly simple”.  

Philip and Sharon Dench say the new dairy is “all we’d hoped it would be. We’ve achieved our goal of labour efficiency with one person comfortably milking 680 cows with another member of the team bringing the second herd in. One of the biggest advantages of a rotary platform is one person gets to see every cow at every milking so they notice any changes in the udder, or cow health and behaviour,” Philip said.

In 2019, changes to the farm’s sort gate software by its original manufacturer, meant it was no longer able to communicate with the milking automation technology onboard the rotary.

Head of Waikato Milking Systems Sales Support and Technical Services, Diego Brandao, said finding a solution was simple. It involved removing the existing sort gate controller and replacing it with the NaviGATE Dairy Management System. We kept the physical gate but removed its control box and reader, and replaced it, and the reader, with NaviGATE. The advantage with NaviGATE is that it allows you to change its settings to suit most common styles of gate hardware in the industry.

A NaviGATEcontrol system and ID reader manage, detects and identifies each cow and uses the gate to automatically draft animals. The old office computer was removed and we installed NaviGATE Office Control. Everything is now linked back to a new system where the operator can review the milking information of each cow and set up predetermined sorting options for the gate.

Finally we installed a NaviGATE Rotary ID/positioning system that identifies each cow and the bail she is being milked in. SmartLINK transfers the data wirelessly from Electronic Milk Meters and SmartD-TECT to the NaviGate Software. The data collected from the sort gate and rotary ID systems can now be sent to the parlour office and reviewed on a PC.

“Overall, every aspect of the project went smoothly. It’s really future-proofed the farm and we’re rapt, we couldn’t be happier.”



Plant: Orbit concrete rotary

Plant Size: 54 bail

Herd Size: 680 cows

Key Technologies

  • Smart ECR’s

  • SmartDTECT

  • BailGates

  • SmartSPRAY

  • NaviGate Dairy Management System