Patrick O’Callaghan has been farming in Co. Cork since he left school.

When he stared out at twenty years of age he worked with his mother and father. They’ve since retired, he said, although his mother still does work on the farm.

Over the years, Patrick has built up his herd and today, he milks close to 300 Holstein cows. Until recently, he had done this in a 20-unit herringbone parlour, but this changed when he wanted to increase the efficiency of his whole operation.

After looking at the options available, he decided to go with a rotary.

“I felt personally that when you look at the herringbone that the maximum efficency had been reached with one man at about 20 units, and the robots for me weren’t an option because the cows would have too far to walk and the numbers were too big, financially,” he said.

Rotary parlour

Patrick chose to go with a rotary based on the “efficiency on which they can milk cows and the troop you can put through per hour”.

Before, with his 20-unit herringbone, he was milking 100-120cows/hr and this has since doubled with the rotary, he said.

“It makes it more efficient for me,” he added.

“It saves me more than an hour a day morning and evening – that’s two hours a day.

“You can utilise that hour whatever way you want. whether that is in the evening, you can have more time with you family so you’ve a better lifestyle,” he added.

“If you want to go someplace, you can go.”

As an example, Patrick said that he attended the Tullamore Show this year. Since it was a last-minute decision to go, he didn’t have any relief staff – but that didn’t pose a problem; he came home at 6:00p.m and was still finished milking at 8:00p.m.

Stand the test of time

When looking at rotaries, Patrick wanted something “reliable and robust, that would last the test of time”.

He chose a GEA rotary as he felt the company had the technology and expertise, as well as a parlour that had the qualities he was looking for – mentioned above.

His next decision then regarded what size of a rotary to go for.

“I felt personally that at 44, one man can comfortably milk the cows and do the job properly…..40-44 seems to be ideal for a one-man operation,” he said.

He felt that going up the numbers would require two people to milk the cows and so, went for the 44.

He also chose to go with a fully automatic rotary, meaning his new parlour has aumatic metering, automatic identification and more.

He wanted put in all of the “extra little bits and pieces” so that he could “maximise the efficiencies of the cows going forward”.

Taking to change

Overall, the Cork man finds that not only is the rotary easier to use, but that it also makes milking easier.

“The cows come to you and all you have to do is assess the cow: Is she healthy? Is she good? Connect the cluster, away she goes, and the machine does the rest,” he said.

“Technically, all the jobs that a [milker] was doing before like teat spraying the cow so on so forth – that’s all done automatically on this GEA rotary, which saves time and saves labour.

“To milk in a rotary is far easier to milk in a herringbone. There’s a lot less walking; everything’s at your finger tips.

“You’re like a pilot in a cockpit.”

He was also very impressed with the ease at which the cows took to the parlour.

“I was impressed with how easily they adapted,” he said.


Patrick was happy with the parlour he choose, and he was also happy with its maker.

“From the beginning, I felt that GEA was very easy to work with,” he said.

“They were easy to work with during the sales period, during the implementation, during the construction phase.

“From an economic perspective, I felt that GEA offered me the most for what I was getting.”

He also makes use of the GEA Cork hub, and its technical experts there.

“They service the machine if there’s any issue or if I need any backup, there’s no problem, they’re on the phone,” said Patrick.

To learn more and GEA Herringbone parlours, click here. Or to find your local GEA dealer, click here.