Milk­ing a lot quicker than I did’

Irish Independent - Farming - - DAIRY FEATURE -

mand­ing for the farmer who wants to ex­pand the sys­tem for big­ger through­put at a later stage un­less ad­e­quate pro­vi­sion is made at the ini­tial plan­ning stage.

On the plus side, pro­mot­ers of the ro­botic sys­tem claim that the op­tion for the cow to choose the fre­quency of milk­ing can con­trib­ute to in­creased yield.

The ma­jor­ity of dairy farm­ers — at least three in ev­ery four — will be faced with con­sid­er­able in­vest­ment in up­dat­ing or ex­pand­ing fa­cil­i­ties within the next few years, said Tea­gasc area man­ager Donal Mul­lane.

His con­cern is that “very many of them could make costly mis­takes” un­less they put ad­e­quate thought into what is best suited to their par­tic­u­lar needs and fi­nan­cial sit­u­a­tion “both of which will vary a lot from farm to farm”.

“The Tip­per­ary ad­vi­sors and my­self have been dis­cussing the cap­i­tal in­vest­ment on dairy farms for some time,” he said, adding they feel farm­ers must carry out sig­nif­i­cant in­ves­ti­ga­tion be­fore mak­ing their de­ci­sion.

“The back­ground is an ex­pand­ing dairy in­dus­try and al­most ev­ery dairy farmer ei­ther has, or will have to, spend some money on fa­cil­i­ties. With that in mind we don’t want to see peo­ple mak­ing mis­takes which at the end of the day could be very costly,” he added.

Brian Pren­der­gast, Lely area sales man­ager, south west re­gion, told the Farm­ing In­de­pen­dent that sales of ro­botic milk­ing sys­tems in Ire­land are up 70pc on 2016. “Ire­land is now the largest mar­ket for our ro­botic milk­ing sys­tems in Europe,” he said.

There is now a lead time of up to six months for sup­ply from the plac­ing of the or­der with the Lely Euro­pean pro­duc­tion plant in Hol­land be­cause of the de­mand.

“Farm­ers are adopt­ing to ro­bot­ics more eas­ily, and the sys­tems are more re­li­able be­cause the guess­work is gone. A lot of farm­ers are go­ing ro­botic be­cause of the labour sav­ing.

“Most of the farm­ers are in­clud­ing heat de­tec­tion and SCC mon­i­tor­ing in their sys­tems but they are not anx­ious to over­spend and more or less in­stalling what is con­sid­ered nec­es­sary,” said Mr Pren­der­gast.

The num­ber of ro­botic milk­ing sys­tems in­stalled by the com­pany in Ire­land and the UK has now passed 1,500 units and sales have grown rapidly since the abo­li­tion of EU milk quo­tas

Mean­while, Donal Mul­lane cau­tioned: “The big­gest mis­take a farmer can make is to put in a sys­tem that they find out af­ter­wards is not suited to their par­tic­u­lar sit­u­a­tion, be that the type of unit, the size of the unit, or the lo­ca­tion of the unit on their farm. Build­ing the dairy unit in the wrong place can be­come a big is­sue on some farms.

“We are ask­ing farm­ers to con­sider where they plan to be in five to 10 years and make their de­ci­sion to fit in with that.”

Gra­ham Swan­ton, farm man­ager; Donal Mul­lane, Tea­gasc area man­ager, and Bill Car­roll on Bill’s farm at Kil­shee­lan, Co Tip­per­ary

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