UUP MLAs ‘intrigued’ by robot milking system
ULSTER Unionist MLAs Tom Elliott and Jo-Anne Dobson have described their visit to a farm near Caledon which uses a robotic milking system as “enjoyable and very intriguing”.
The two representatives were shown round the farm by owner Jonathan Kirkland.
Speaking after the visit, Mr Elliott said: “While I have heard a lot about the robotic milking system I haven’t had the opportunity to see one in action until now. Jonathan owns two machines, which were manufactured by Lely in Holland, and they are outstanding pieces of technology.
“The manner in which machines milk the cattle, using rotating bristles to clean the udder and suction cups on the teats which are clearly comfortable for the animal, is incredibly intriguing to watch. The milking process takes place steadily throughout the day which allows Jonathan to use his time to do other things around the farm. It also means that he doesn’t have to get up at the crack of dawn or arrange for someone to milk for him if he’s away for the day, which is a massive positive for any farmer.”
Jo-Anne Dobson, the Ulster Unionist agriculture spokesperson added: “Like Tom, this visit to Jonathan’s farm was my first chance to see a robotic milking system working, and it was very interesting. Each machine can milk 70 cows three or more times a day, and gathers the milk in large containers ready for collection by the dairy.
“The whole process is monitored by a comprehensive computer system which provides Jonathan with a plethora of information, including how much milk each cow has produced and when they last went through the machines.
“Importantly, it is also able to highlight if there is something wrong with any of the cattle, and gives Jonathan a warning that the animal may need to be looked at.
“This information can be extremely valuable to a farmer, particularly if they have a large herd to look after.”
In closing Mr Elliott said: “When I was a farmer one of the things I really didn’t enjoy was the amount of time I had to spend in the milking parlour.
“The robotic system definitely removes a large portion of that timescale, and although it takes a significant investment, the benefits are clear for any farmer who goes down this route and installs a robotic system.”
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Saturday 25 May 2013
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