NZ – Morvin/Waimate – The Milk Factory (a dirtier job than you may think)

– MARCH 18, 2015

The Waimate area is perfect in landscape and climate to raise proper dairy cows.  As such, large investments have been made in this area for the dairy industry.  Commercial dairy operations of more than 1,500 cows each (and there are a few in the area) where they milk the cows twice a day.  That’s a lot of cows and a lot of udders to squeeze.

To streamline this operation, some of the dairy producers have started purchasing these auto-milking operations.  Basically, the cows get trained over time to know when its time to be milked and they just naturally come to the platforms.  They cue up and are thinned to a single lineup.  One by one these cows are slotted onto a circular rotating platform that has auto-milkers at each slot.

This platform is constantly rotating, so by the time a slot has rotated 180 degrees the cow is done being milked.  The suction auto-milker units release by sensors, then the cows are pushed out of the slot into the exit lane so they can go back to grazing in the fields.

The cows enter from the fields and are positioned into one of the fifty rotating slots.

The cows enter from the fields and are positioned into one of the fifty rotating slots.  The employee connects the udder pumps.

The control panel to the right of the worker is an emergency control unit, but when we were there it all operated like clockwork.  Unfortunately, the position of this worker made me try to think of any jobs worse than his job.  He stands there all day looking up at cow asses, while connecting the udder auto-milkers to the cows.  This suction sensation relaxes the cows, as they want the milk pumped out.  These cows seemed to have conspired to hold their #2’s until this moment to show the worker who’s really in charge.

I figured this fellow lost a bet to have this job. He's facing nothing but cow asses and they seemed to know when to take a #2. Look to the floor around him and his protective garb. Disgusting!

I figured this fellow lost a bet to have this job. He’s facing nothing but cow asses and they seemed to know when to take a #2. Look to the floor around him and his protective garb. Disgusting!

The worker had to hose down the area every 10 minutes…yes, it happened that frequently.  We stood in the control room behind some safe glass walls.  No way were we getting in the line of fire on this day!

Inside the control room, the staff had their week outlined via whiteboard.  I had to take a picture as it reminded me of Allan Francis and Guy Jamieson when they were whiteboarding their weekly/daily tasks on the TACC project.  Gentlemen, take a look at the photo below and remember this list when you start to question your chosen profession!  It can always get worse!  🙂

Allan Francis and Guy Jamieson like to whiteboard their daily tasks...how do your daily jobs compare to this list?

Allan Francis and Guy Jamieson like to whiteboard their daily tasks…how do your daily jobs compare to this list?

After reviewing the operation with the cows, we headed off to see the larger commercial plant.  The commercial plant sends trucks to the dairy farms every evening to collect the days milk product, then returns to a factory like the one seen below.

One of the large scale commercial dairy factories in the area. Fenced boundaries, security checkpoints, parking lots...all to protect 10 million dollars in milk at any given time.

One of the large scale commercial dairy factories in the area. Fenced boundaries, security checkpoints, parking lots…all to protect 10 million dollars in milk at any given time.

The security here was air-tight, so we didn’t go inside to see what happens there.  You can pretty much guess for yourselves though.  The place was locked down tighter than a financial close agreement (a P3 joke for those not in the P3 game).  That’s because there is more than $10,000,000.00 in milk product here at any one time.  I guess they’re afraid Danny Ocean and his crew would break in to steal the milk….I mean, has there really been milk security issues?  Perhaps its about keeping the milk uncontaminated…I couldn’t say since Jill’s sketchiness wouldn’t get us past security (or perhaps its because we didn’t try).

We are trying to get a deeper perspective into the people and places we visit.  It’s not all about skydiving and bungy jumping on this adventure!

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For more photos of our adventure go to our flickr account here.

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