Efficient grass to milk on Greenfield site

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Michael Downey moved his herd of 70 cows to an out farm in June 2014.

As part of this move he built a shed in the centre of the grazing block to accommodate two robots and house the herd. He currently milks his 70 cows on one Lely Astronaut A4 milking robot and intends installing the second one at a later date.

The compact spring calving Holstein/British Friesian X herd calve from mid-January, go to grass from 1st February and remain at grass until 1st December.

Cows are currently producing 2.1kgs of milk solids per cow per day from grass and 3kgs of meal.

Milk Yield Increase and Excellent Quality

Since installing the Lely Astronaut A4 Michael says he has experienced close to a 10% increase in milk yield, and a significant drop in Somatic Cell Count and a very low Total Bacteria Count. He puts this down to the consistency and frequency of milking, pre cleaning and post spraying of cow’s teats. His TBC is currently 3,000 and SCC is 78,000.This amounts to a considerable increase in overall profit from the dairy enterprise.

Heat Detection

“The extremely accurate heat detection system on the Lely Astronaut A4 separates cows to an Artificial Insemination area. This eliminates tail painting, teaser bulls etc. and makes insemination of cow’s very easy.” comments Michael, who inseminates his own cows.

Michael is operating an A, B & C grazing system which ensures cows are offered fresh grass every eight hours. “Cows are milking 2.4 times per day on average with the highest yielders milking up to four times per day. The efficiency of the robot has greatly enhanced grass management on the farm and made for far better grass utilisation which allows for higher solids and ultimately higher solids sold per hectare,” continues Michael.

Significant Labour Saving

“Not having to milk has resulted in saving at least 22 hours per week, at a time when labour has become the new quota, this is crucial. Once calving is over, the time spent on routine tasks plus preparing grass for cows amounts to no more than 35 minutes per day at flexible times, resulting in a considerable cost saving on the farm,” comments Michael.

“The uniqueness of the Lely Astronaut robotic arm was a significant factor in choosing Lely. This combined with the ease of which continuous technology improvements are incorporated into the robot keep my robot fresh and up to date. They are years ahead in terms of robotic milking technology. Smart and inexpensive sampling of SCC on a daily basis is a good example of this,” adds Michael.

Installation, Start-up and After Sales Service

“Cows were trained on grass in June 2014 and were travelling freely 10 days later. The Lely Center’s expertise on grazing and their farm management support made the installation stress free for both the cows and I. The support and service from the team at Lely Center Enniscorthy is ongoing. Looking back it would have been a massive mistake to have gone with a conventional system when building the new dairy facility,” concludes Michael.

OPEN DAY INVITATION - Wednesday 24th June

Michael Downey along with Lely Center Enniscorthy is inviting farmers to come and see the Lely Astronaut A4 at his farm in Owning, Piltown, Co. Kilkenny from 12 - 4pm.

The farm will be signposted from the village of Owning off the N24 Waterford – Carrick-on-Suir road. If you require any more information please contact:David Redmond 087 2597861 or Larry Banville 087 2619316.