Six years ago, Henk Hanskamp stood in the milking pit, watching the cows with satisfaction as they entered the milking parlour effortlessly. The first pellets rattled through the CrisyDos (the precursor to the PipeFeeder) into the feed trough, and the cows ejected their milk without prestimulation. He saw the areas of improvement shortly after.
Development of the PipeFeeder
In-parlour feeding causes a peak in oxytocin levels, which causes improved milk ejection in cows , but many dairy farmers still saw a lot of drawbacks. With that in mind, Henk set out to develop the PipeFeeder together with Bart Pennings, an engineer at Hanskamp. The challenge was developing a concentrate dispenser which would put in-parlour feeding back on the map. It needed to be a dispenser with a low drop height in order to prevent dust and noise. It also needed to have anti-spill features to prevent the cows from battering it. To end the restlessness and damage to the milking parlour, the dispenser would distribute the pellets in small portions throughout the milking time, keeping cows constantly focused on the feed trough.
After much deliberation, the concentrate dispenser began to take shape on the drawing board. After the first prototypes were welded together, the initial tests could begin. When the tests proved successful, the dispenser was ready to go to market and was given an appropriate name: PipeFeeder.
Tried and tested
Now, six years later, the PipeFeeder has proven its worth in practice; it is sold in 18 countries by over 300 dairy equipment dealers. In-parlour feeding is becoming increasingly popular. The PipeFeeder is becoming the standard for in-parlour feeding, as well as for concentrate dispensers and milking robots.
A small celebration was held in Doetinchem in December 2016. The 10,000th PipeFeeder was assembled and shipped to Van Leeuwen Mechanisatie, a dairy equipment dealer in Leidschendam. They installed the 10,000th PipeFeeder in a 2x6, 30° herringbone milking parlour with MultiFrames at Kaasboerderij de Vierhuizen in Zoeterwoude. Their milking parlour was put into operation in late February.
Ease of labour with the PipeFeeder
Kaasboerderij de Vierhuizen is an organic dairy farm with 45 dairy cows and its own cheese factory. They built a new shed for 60 dairy cows at a new location. The partnership consists of Theo van Leeuwen, his son Freek, and Freek's wife Nicole. Theo says that the choice for in-parlour feeding was an easy one for them. "It ensures that the cows' concentrate intake occurs at a fixed time, which improves grazing."
During the tour of the company, Freek shows us the old milking parlour. "We used in-parlour feeding here too. The old dispensers were inaccurate, and cows could get them to dispense extra pellets." Precise measurements are very important, especially in extensive livestock farming, where the animals are given limited portions of concentrate. Another large advantage is that the PipeFeeder is a closed system, which prevents external dirt or debris from contaminating the concentrate supply from above.
The new milking parlour is a 2x6 herringbone parlour equipped with MultiFrames and PipeFeeders. The new parlour is being used to full satisfaction. "We've been using the new parlour for nearly 3 weeks now. The milk production seems higher than before. We especially notice that the cows enter the milking parlour easily, which makes our work a lot easier."