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  • Batt-Latch Feedback

    Please use this forum to let us know about cunning ways you've used our timer on your farm, or to help us make the Batt-Latch even better.

    Our staff are often motivated by farmers' very positive comments about the Batt-Latch, for some of you it's hard to manage without them.

    We are currently testing new plastics for the outer case, completing design work on the solar panel/battery combination for an extended lifetime, and producing the first 5km 'remote' units.
    Graham Lynch

  • #2
    Batt-Latch payback period or ROI

    I've noticed that sales of our equipment are higher at National Fieldays when the dairy payout is higher. In a way, that disappoints me, because the Batt-Latch, for example, should always pay for itself no matter what the payout is. We'd like to show that the purchase of a gate timer for the farm is a 'no-brainer' as the accountants say.

    In time savings, which should always be costed at an hourly rate(s), and in convenience factor (time off farm, swapping early hours for more staff effort in the middle of the day, ability to retain staff, goodwill etc).

    Equipment and maintenance savings: less use of farm bike or quad, less fence damage (bulls,steers especially), less pugging over winter, less race damage.

    Feed efficiencies (more frequent feed breaks, use with break feeding crops, holding back, release to feedpads). Try 4-hourly paddock breaks with the milking herd.

    In health benefits for stock: Surprisingly, this could be the biggest savings area for farmers. We have no published research work to back this up, but many dairy farmers have reported reduced lameness in their cows (up to 60% reduction or more) after using the timers for herd release. More about this later. There is also a strong possibility that when cows walk in single file to the dairy, they will walk on the crown of the race, where they will attract less dirt, and hopefully not pick up mastitis bacteria as much. Some research has already been done by DairyNZ on this, by controlling herd speed (without our timers).

    Stock behaviour: we have not had a single negative comment about cow behaviour regarding the Batt-Latch timer. Usually a lead cow in the herd will bring the rest up to the dairy when the timer opens. Once the herd have grown used to the timer, they may even have a mild panic if the timer is not used to enclose them in the paddock! They will wait patiently near the gateway until the timer releases (either side), and most farmers note this generally reduces pugging in the gateways of paddocks. Stock will generally be less stressed, and calmly defaecate in the paddock before moving in their decided order to the dairy.

    I am not a farmer, but I'm confident that all of these benefits easily justify the purchase of a timer for any dairy farm, and for many other farm types as well. That's why we call the Batt-Latch a 'Moneymaker' or 'Solar-Powered Profit Generator' in our advertising. It's heartening to see that some farmers rate our timer so highly, they have a spare or older one that gets less use, mainly to cover the odd time the main timer is out of action for any reason.

    So what is the pay-back period for a Batt-Latch? On a dairy farm that achieves reduced lameness, it could easily be a matter of days. After that, all the extra thousands of dollars of profit belongs to the farm.
    Graham Lynch


    • #3
      For the last few years, we have kept in touch with Neil Chesterton, a veterinarian based in Inglewood. Neil has a keen interest in dairy farm lameness, and has produced a DVD/video for farmers to help reduce the problems. He speaks at many engagements to farmers about lameness, and he is a provider for DairyNZ's 'Healthy Hoof Programme'.

      Recently Neil rang to say he's becoming increasingly interested in the Batt-Latch, and some of his clients have had huge reductions in lameness after using the timer. Unsurprisingly, we have sold a lot of units in the Taranaki region..

      Neil emailed us recently:

      Graham, regarding your request for findings with your timer. Quantifying the cost of lameness on a farm is so difficult.

      Work in the South Island had come up with totally confusing figures. One study - a well run large study - estimated it cost his farmers between $40-50 per lameness case. Another - a survey of farmers - estimated it cost over $1000 per case. How can this be? I actually agree with both figures. The lower figure comes from big farms where seldom is a vet called and all they do is keep any lame cows close to the shed until they recover. A bull is run with the cows and they are well fed. If the higher figure was true for every lame cow then many farms would be in receivership! I think it couldn't be true. So my best guess is as in my book at about $200 - 300 per white line lameness properly treated and possibly $50 - 60 per sole penetration when treated early and thoroughly. Straight away you can see how different types of lameness have different levels of economic impact.

      Another confusing factor is the stage of lactation of the cow when the lameness occurs. Early lameness (ie before mating starts) is far more costly to a farm because some lame cows fail to conceive or are delayed in getting into calf. Late season lameness - as often happens in the South Island - is less costly because there is no reproductive loss. Often a farmer just dries off the lame cow and gives their share of the pasture to the rest of the herd. Total milk production hardly changes so the cost of these late lactation lamenesses is minimal.

      When you ask if it were possible to estimate the savings when using a Batt-Latch the answer is even more complicated because only part of the cause of lameness is happening on the tracks. Batt-Latches I am sure will result in less wear of the foot - but I have no way of measuring this yet. Massey is doing a study on sole thickness right now to work out a way. One day I would like to do a study comparing the thickness of soles in half a herd on Batt-Latch and comparing them with the other half herded home by the usual method. The reason I would like to do this is because I am convinced that thin soles is the precursor to sole penetrations and white line injuries - this latter caused by separation of the sole and the wall when the cows are under pressure in the milking yard.

      When I investigate lameness in a herd I measure over 100 important factors, so to identify the impact of one factor (say Batt-Latch) by itself is not possible without further studies on sole thickness. I would like to design a study in the future (maybe with you) because even without proof I am convinced that voluntary walking must reduce sole wear and subsequent deeper injury to the sole and white line.

      I will have a look at your forum - I am only slowly becoming IT literate! I do have a website where I can look at putting a link to your website. In my lameness booklet I emphasize in 4 different places the importance of letting the cows drift home at their own pace.

      Graham, I would like to catch up with you sometime. I like and recommend your product by name at nearly every seminar I run all over the country (even without scientific evidence!). Just yesterday I talked with a farmer to whom I am going to lend my Batt-Latch because I am sure it will help his situation. I am putting together a new DVD on Cowflow (my growing passion) and I have found the farm where I will be doing my videoing of the Batt-Latch.

      Regards, Neil
      Many thanks Neil, and we'd be very pleased to see the video. We have not composed one of our own yet, and think it would be good to see on YouTube and our website!

      Note that Neil promotes two farming products (one being our Batt-Latch) and the Healthy Hoof Programme on the Lamecow website.
      Last edited by Graham; 11 November 2009, 11:57 AM. Reason: To add link
      Graham Lynch


      • #4
        NZ dollar rises on higher Fonterra forecast payout
        Monday November 9, 05:02 PM

        * Kiwi rises on forecast higher dairy payout

        * Kiwi recoups some losses against the Aussie

        * Swap rates higher, bonds lower

        WELLINGTON, Nov 9 (Reuters) - The New Zealand dollar NZD= rose on Monday after dairy giant Fonterra, which generates about 7 percent of New Zealand's gross domestic product, lifted its forecast payout to farmer shareholders by almost 20 percent.

        The kiwi settled around $0.7348/58, after surging to $0.7363, its highest since Oct 29, from about $0.7255 in late Friday trade.

        "The Fonterra news should have momentum and support the New Zealand dollar for another day or two," said Westpac senior strategist Imre Speizer.

        Fonterra raised its forecast payout to NZ$6.05 per kg/milksolids from a previous NZ$5.10, citing an increase in international dairy prices. [ID:nWEL402547] Analysts said the increase payout will mean an extra NZ$1.3 billion for ($944 million) NZ dairy farmers.

        House prices data also supported the kiwi. Quotable Value showed house prices grew in value for the first time in 16 months in October, with the recovery driven by a lack of houses for sale. [ID:nWEL18421]

        The kiwi also benefited from a weak U.S. dollar after a meeting of the Group of 20 finance officials failed to take action to rebalance global flows or talk more specifically about the U.S. dollar's recent decline [ID:nLQ516726].

        The kiwi, which has come under pressure over the past weeks because of the prospects of rising rates in Australia, recouped some losses against the Aussie, but remained below the A$0.80 level.

        This week sees the Reserve Bank of New Zealand's six-monthly report on the financial system, as well as third-quarter retail sales [NZ/POLL] and October month house sales and prices.

        The data will be watched for more evidence that the emergence from recession seen in the second quarter has picked up pace, and whether that might bring forward the RBNZ's tightening cycle.

        Swap rates NZDIRS rose after the Fonterra news, while New Zealand government debt prices weakened on less demand for safe-haven bonds. The benchmark 10-year bond NZ10YT=RR yield closed 5 basis points higher at 5.79 percent. (Reporting by Mantik Kusjanto; Editing by Jonathan Standing)
        This news is terrific for dairy farmers for the season ahead. My suggestion is to use just a small bit of this extra income to help ensure that the farm operation is streamlined and will always make more profit.. e.g. buy labour-saving devices, especially if they reduce other overheads like vet bills.
        Graham Lynch


        • #5
          Catching wild deer

          The other day a farmer rang up about buying another Batt-latch, and mentioned deer movement control. My ears pricked up, and he was quick to enthuse on the Batt-Latch experiences he'd had so far.

          He's caught 57 wild deer on the back of his farm using our standard timer, and now wants to use the remote control option to move captured deer around from about 100 metres away, within the main capture area!

          The normal method is to hold a gateway open into a well-fenced paddock with lots of feed and maybe hay etc, and have the Batt-Latch release a gate to the closed position in the middle of the night, a few days later. This delay can be up to 2 weeks long. By then the deer think this is all too easy.

          I talked to him about using the unit on feral pigs too, but apparently they are too agressive for that technique to work. Still, he's done well out of one timer already..
          Graham Lynch


          • #6
            Better payout next season!

            It looks like the Fonterra payout for 2010-2011 will allow more discretionary spending on most dairy farms, and this should flow through to their suppliers.


            At the moment the exchange rate is under US67c. If it stays there, and demand continues, the payout could be as high as NZ$8. I have the same message as a while ago: look around for equipment and products that will give a fast payback and continue to increase profitability long-term.

            Those who can, are urged to attend the National Fieldays in mid-June in Hamilton. Novel Ways have a site in the pavillion, PF6. This is in the Innovation Theme area. Have a good look around all sites.

            Don't be like one farmer I spoke to a few years ago - we were standing in the middle of one of the busiest roads at Fieldays, and all around were display stands set up at great cost and effort by hundreds of businesses from all over NZ and abroad - at a minimum each siteholder will spend $10,000 and often over $50,000 to do this - his comment was that he couldn't see anything that he needed for his dairy farming operation. I was floored by that.

            I'm fairly sure that leading farmers will be taking a lot more interest, and spending 2-3 days there. Don't forget that suppliers of equipment get just one bite at a profit margin, and we are happy with that. It's up to you to buy the right gear so that your operation can reap many times the investment, over the lifetime of the product.
            Graham Lynch


            • #7
              The Batt-Latch has been used with some success on horses. Usually just one or two horses are being looked after by one person, and they need short bursts of special feed followed by grass, or something similar. By holding them in a special feed area for a timed duration, horses can be given special rations without affecting other stock or other horses. In Sweden, our agent Per Sandberg has sold quite a few timers mainly for use with horses, even though his country is snow-bound for a lot of the year.


              We are seeing more interest in this use from NZ, Australia and USA.
              Graham Lynch


              • #8
                During National Fieldays at Mystery Creek in June 2011, I will be one of several speakers at the University of Waikato's short seminars to be held at their outdoors site, D25. The theme is "Breaking Barriers to Productivity", so I have a few ideas for that topic. Please come along and heckle..

                For Fieldays in 2011, the Batt-Latch gate timers will be readily available for purchase at the Jenquip site PB29, in the Pavillion. Merv and his staff will be there, and they have several other tech products for farmers, that help to make a difference with your operation.
                Graham Lynch


                • #9
                  A study of dairy herd lameness in Taranaki showed that 65% of the problems occured in herd movements to and from the milking platform. This lines up with large decreases in lameness rates noticed by many purchasers of Batt-Latch timers. No-one has ever said that lameness increased when using our gear.
                  Graham Lynch


                  • #10
                    Fieldays is now over for another year, lots of smiling faces around both exhibitors and farmers, from what I could see. The seminar series was a bit quiet for some speakers, but we still gave away two timers to participants. Here is a link to the Powerpoint pages of the presentation, also available on the download pages of our website.


                    Jenquip sold quite a few Batt-Latch timers, including three to a farming outfit that was using them to capture or handle deer.

                    The innovation area was very busy and well funded, which was great to see. The metal sculptures were also just amazing, sited out the front of that marquee.
                    Graham Lynch


                    • #11
                      The Batt-Latch timers are in big demand at this time of the year in NZ, as farmers realise the herd can be trained very easily at the start of the season. But our staff are busy making these and shipping them, so any delivery delays should be minimal.

                      The bird-nesting season is upon us, and soon many sheds up and down the country will be the subject of nesting attempts. Nests in tractors are a common source of fires, often writing off the tractor. We have not made a product to scare birds, as there are several already in the marketplace that appear to do a good job.

                      However, one of our biggest Batt-Latch using customers, Frank Usmar from Feilding, has discovered how a Batt-Latch can be used to scare birds away from sheds.

                      Simply set the timer up to release in the middle of each night, secure it to the inside of a shed wall with the strap, and stretch a long metal spring gate down to it, so that when it releases, the spring and hook will smash into the underneath of the shed's roof (not too hard). Frank says that after three or four nights of this massive one-off noise, there will be no birds nesting in the shed!

                      Brilliant work Frank, and we hope some farmers get plenty of use out of this idea.
                      Graham Lynch


                      • #12
                        Novel Ways will have an outdoor site at Fieldays this year, in front of the main Pavilion (site E52). We will have plenty of stock of Batt-Latch timer kits, and a few of the new remote controlled units.

                        We also have a demo gate mechanical latch controlled by the timer, with alternate open and close actions. This might be useful for large loads, dog kennel and chicken coop doors, etc. Each time the timer hits an event, the latch goes to the opposite state. We were asked about this as a locking system for parks and reserves at night. An access gate can be unlocked early in the morning and locked in the evening, with a slightly modified gate timer and a simple mechanical fitting. No other power supply needed.

                        Other points of interest on our site will be the greatly improved GrassMaster Pro drymatter instrument for pasture and forages, and the AgPlanet Agribusiness database website we're developing with a team of software engineers. AgPlanet is designed to allow a low-cost and powerful advertising and information portal for all of New Zealand's agribusiness sector. It will encourage stronger and quicker linkages with new technology and services. A part of the site will be running at Fieldays.
                        Graham Lynch


                        • #13
                          A new application for the Batt-Latch pehaps: some farmers feed palm kernal and other supplements at the exit of the dairy platform. This works well for herringbone sheds, you allow one side at a time to access the feed troughs, and then before letting the next side out you move those cows off down the race and shut a gate behind them. It's a bit labour intensive though. A farmer in Aussie is thinking about using our short-distance remote controlled Batt-Latch to handle the opening of the gateway to the race, which saves about a third of the work. The short-range upgrade to the latest timers is $300 + GST, and hand-held remote will give you about 200mtrs range. We have an idea or two for moving the cows along without having to get out of the pit, but closing the spring gate again after the cows have gone, that's a bit harder.

                          In 1995 we used a Batt-Latch circuit board with modified code to run a boom gate at Fieldays. The aluminium boom was powered with a car door power window mechanism. If we had a go at that now, we'd probably use an Elsema gate control PCB, and a bigger motor gearbox. But this would be a lot cheaper than the only other system we've heard about for this type of job, the $25,000 E-Feeder.
                          Graham Lynch


                          • #14
                            As mentioned, there have been a few customers using the Batt-Latch timer for free-range hens and chickens. Normally they are let out during the day, and by feeding them inside at night, the birds can be locked in safely. We assume the timer is holding the gate flap open, and at dusk it releases the flap on the coop or chicken shed, which clicks shut, securing the birds automatically.

                            We have figured out this year that we can easily modify the timer so it moves 180 degrees on each timer action or event. It's just a small step from there to lock and unlock a gate. Here are some ideas.

                            The mockup gate is a metal frame we use at Fieldays for demos. We've added a small welded latch receptacle, used the Batt-Latch adapter frame for wooden or pipe gates, and slightly modifed the timer inside to have two lugs on the optical sensor arm.

                            Each time the timer triggers for an event, the cam rotates 180 degrees instead of 360. As long as the gate is resting against its stop point each time the timer activates, the gate will be unlocked or locked alternately. Note we simply used a vertical gate spring as fitted to many small gates worldwide, to hold the gate in the closed position.

                            All the forces are on the solid steel latch, not the timer. The solar panel would need to be left uncovered and facing roughly in the midday sun direction if possible. We could also supply another solar panel in parallel, mounted on a bracket.

                            The price might be NZ$395 for the slightly modified timer kit, $80 for the bracket and standard fittings, $50 for a spare solar panel if needed, and the latch and gate spring would probably be the customer's problem, as all gates are different.
                            Attached Files
                            Graham Lynch


                            • #15
                              I was speaking with a dairy farmer yesterday, who uses all four settable release times on the Batt-Latch. He's releasing and holding back the herd for both morning and evening milking. Many farmers report they'll load the feedpad for both milkings to ensure the cows come at their own pace, and on their own time.

                              A four-release cycle starts with the cows being automatically released out of a paddock or part-paddock for morning milking, they're lured by the promise of the feedpad or in-shed feeder. Either the timer is moved to the next paddock's gateway or reinstalled, with the back half of a paddock opened up, while the cows are being milked. The first few cows find the new paddock and wait at the gateway for the rest of the herd to join up. Near the end of milking, all cows are let into the paddock by the Batt-Latch, and the farmer then reinstates the timer to hold them in, until the afternoon release.

                              This operation might be more common than I thought, but most farmers hold the cows back in the race close to the shed, if they are utilising 'holding back' as a way of evening out nutrition. But it means two timers have to be used for each herd, or a dedicated timer is kept in the raceway. I'd guess the travel distance is a little shorter with the second method. But checking that all the herd made it out of the paddock for milking is often a good idea too.
                              Graham Lynch