Dairy island 1 and 2

I was  a struggling main land farmer, and saw the opportunities available within the floating kingdom to produce fresh milk.

Although in the future farms with fields will be built at this point it was beyond what I could sensibly consider. However what I could see was cattle housed in pleasant surroundings who could spend some time in the open, be well fed, happy and producing milk.

I approached the people setting up the kingdom with a simple proposal, I wanted to get two islands built, one I would own and the other I would rent from them. This gave me two dairy units, that were geographically separated within the kingdom.

The island design is simple, on the top we have a sheltered area that the cattle can be on the surface, also we have a sort of guest house and a farm house. On the next level down we have some apartments we can let, and cattle housing and feed areas.

In fact the whole of one side of the island is accommodation units, some to let and some for staff and a language school.

Next down we have the milking parlor, dairy bulls, and  a small hospital/care facility.

Below that we have food storage, and below that calves and young cattle we are bringing on for herd development and replacements. Then we get to road and service height with some let storage units and below that we have more let storage and a slurry reprocessing unit, producing methane to fuel the island and the remaining material is produced into a form of fertilizer.

The cattle are fed a mixture of freshly cut grass and protein that is produced by the OTEC plants. We do buy in a very small amount including some powdered feed milk for calves.

The real secret of the operation is the fresh cut grass operation. Many islands have lawns or parks and with our climate and available water, the gardens here are always fresh and lawns grow well throughout the year. More and more islands are being constructed with lawns, both on houses and around hotels and other areas. We provide a free cutting service for these, and remove and use the grass cut. The people we use to undertake the mowing are young people who want to attend the language school. we pay their air fare in, feed and house them, provide them with a language education in English and then eventually pay for their fare home. Most spend 9 months to a year with us. Its particularly popular with students who want to get into English speaking universities.

In practice we make sure they have a good time, and take them out in small groups quite a lot.

The cattle floors are all linked by shallow ramps, and are high enough that we can drive tractors around. All sections can be shut off so we can at different times of the day allow the dairy herd and young cattle the chance to get some fresh air. The bulls have sliding wall compartments allowing them to see out through heavy bars.

Slurry is delivered down a shaft by gravity to the reprocessing unit, so the only mechanical lift is the one that brings cut grass and food material up from boat level to the food store. If I were to design another island I would run ramps down to water level and use tractors to bring up material. The tractors run on hydrogen, with tanks just behind the drivers seat.  The goods lift and passenger lifts run on electricity produced from the methane we produce.

The second island is an exact copy of the first one, and we have a young farming couple who manage this for us, they also have two other young couples, who they are training up as managers, one will eventually take over the running of my island and the other will become a relief team allowing each team to have a third of their time off.

On land most cattle houses are made of concrete and most of our islands are plain concrete, or rather Ferrocement, the ground we had ridged just slightly to make it less slippery, and sealed so it was easier to clean.

The dairy produces different grades of fresh/pasteurized milk, and packages it in a number of ways, from bulk deliveries to hotels to individual bottles and other reusable containers for household delivery.

Last year we had a post tube system added to one of our units, and using insulated containers robot deliver fresh milk to many homes with post tube machines, early in the morning when the post tube system is very quiet. Beside the capital cost and computerization needed the major problem was in finding enough room for all the insulated containers in the day time, as they get returned. The system is currently being upgraded so customers can get extra amounts throughout the day.

We are next year adding a similar system to the other island, but looking this time at the larger users. 

Once I have the new managers trained I will be looking at getting some more trained up and have started to discuss building a further two islands, similar to the ones we have, but each around twice the size. One of these will have a dairy processing unit in making cream, yogurts, cheese etc. the other new island will have a rare breeds and pet animal section, aimed more at residents children and schools than tourists.

With nice weather, opportunities, no red tape and no income tax, and best of all a great collection of friends we have built up since coming out here, I am really pleased that I chose to get involved, when at first the idea of having a herd of cattle floating in the ocean was by many considered just a really silly idea.


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Last updated: May 08, 2002.