Open invitation to Lely open day on Co Antrim dairy farm

Looking forward to next week's Lely Open Day are host farmers William John and Allister McCullough, Broughshane, and Lely representative Colin Bell. Picture: Julie Hazelton
Looking forward to next week's Lely Open Day are host farmers William John and Allister McCullough, Broughshane, and Lely representative Colin Bell. Picture: Julie Hazelton
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County Antrim dairy farmers William John McCullough and son, Allister, are set to host the first in a series of open days organised by Lely Center Eglish.

The open day on Tuesday 27th January will give milk producers an opportunity to see two Lely Astronaut A4 milking robots in operation, in addition to one of the company’s Calm calf feeders, and a Discovery barn cleaner.

Allister and William John have been steadily increasing the size of the herd in recent years, and currently manage 115 pedigree Holstein cows which are registered under the Racavan prefix.

The farm’s five point swing over parlour was in need of an upgrade, and after careful consideration the father and son team who farm under the backdrop of Slemish on the outskirts of Broughshane, decided to invest in a robotic milking machine.

“We priced various conventional milking parlours, and eventually decided to opt for a robot,”explained Allister. Some of my friends have Lely robots, and the company’s Astronaut model seems to be the most popular on the market.

“We initially purchased one Astronaut A4 milking robot, and with the cows divided into two batches, we continued to milk the low yielding and stale cows in the parlour. The fresh calved cows and high yielders were milked by the robot.”

The existing shed needed minor building work to accommodate the robots. “The first robot was installed two and a half years ago, and at the time we left space to accommodate a second robot, which has now been up and running for three months.

“Milking was taking up to eight hours daily in the old parlour,” added William John. “Purchasing the first robot certainly eased the pressure, but now we don’t know ourselves.

“The robots have given us great flexibility,” continued Allister, who has a young family.

Allister can access herd management records at the touch of a button.

“The Lely T4C is a farmer-friendly computer package which provides me with a wealth of management information on each individual cow.”

Milk production in the Racavan herd has increased by five litres per cow per day, with the herd currently producing a 305-day average of 9,200 litres at 3.90% butterfat and 3.15% protein. The herd’s highest yielding cow is producing over 60 litres per day, and heifers are peaking at over 40 litres.

The herd is kept in one batch and the TMR ration which comprises of silage, blend and straw, is designed to provide maintenance plus 27 litres. A 16% crude protein dairy nut is fed in the robot, depending on individual yield, to a maximum of 12kgs per head per day.

Heifers are calved into the herd at two-years-old, and AI bulls featured in the breeding policy include Sudan, Flick, Legend, Eddie and Jacob.

The Lely open day on Tuesday 27th January takes place at 38 Racavan Road, Broughshane, BT42 4PH from 10am to 3pm. The farm will be signposted from the village of Broughshane.

For further details contact Lely Center Eglish on tel: 028 3754 8228 , or Jim Irwin on mobile: 07827 884639.