Global dairy equipment company DeLaval has celebrated 100 years since the launch of the world’s first commercially successful milking machine by sharing the story of an unknown Kiwi inventor.
At an event held in Hamilton on November 29, the company recognised the vision and innovation of Norman John Daysh. In the early 1900s, Norman invented the first commercial vacuum-pump milking machine that went on to revolutionize the dairy industry. Norman’s grandchildren John Daysh and Mary Daysh were the guests of honour at the centenary event at DeLaval’s Hamilton headquarters.
John Daysh said he is thrilled his grandfather is receiving recognition one hundred years after his machine was launched to the world, saying it’s been an untold story until now.
“It’s something we Kiwis should be really proud of. Norman grew up as a farm boy in Pahiatua and he was fascinated by all the machinery being developed at that time, and he decided to find a way to milk cows mechanically.”
He said his grandfather experimented with early machines on a cow Daisy in the Wairarapa farmhouse kitchen.
“People had been trying to find a milking machine for 50 years or so, including Edison the great inventor in America, but none of them were actual dairy farmers. People had been experimenting with all sorts of things that sounded quite painful for the cow, including rollers and copper pipes inserted into the teats.
“My grandfather’s was successful because he was a dairy farmer, and he knew how sensitive cows were, and how to extract milk in a way which was comfortable to the cow and efficient for the workers, which was revolutionary really,” John explained.
Norman Daysh secured more than 20 patents for his machine before travelling from Wairarapa to New York in 1913 in the hopes of finding a global company interested in helping him perfect the machine he had designed. In New York, the DeLaval company recognised the potential of Norman’s machine and his innovative spirit.
Together they fine-tuned the machine, and then in 1917, launched it to the world.
“We knew a little bit about this story within the company, but we were just blown away to hear John Daysh talk about Norman in such fantastic new detail,” said DeLaval CEO Joakim Rosengren from the company’s headquarters in Sweden.
“As soon as we learned Norman had living grandchildren still in New Zealand, we knew we needed to do something special to mark the centenary,” he said. “What Norman achieved remains the basis of our company today. His innovative thinking, his concern for the welfare of dairy cows, his insistent on engineering excellence, his vision for an efficient and safe industry, all those things remain just as important to us today as they were to him one hundred years ago.”
“We can’t say enough about how Norman’s achievement has shaped our company,” said said Justin Thompson, DeLaval’s Oceania sales management director. “If you look for example at our advances in milking robots, one of the key drivers is allowing cows to live more naturally – to choose when and how often they are milked. It’s a future that Norman would probably never have dreamed was possible but which is truly a result of his own innovation and vision, and truly in step with his interests and concerns.”
“It’s a wonderful New Zealand story and the centenary is a great time to let people know about this fantastic achievement of an ordinary Kiwi farmer,” said John Daysh.