Cow-first approach guides latest innovations for Fullwood Packo

With a greater focus on issues such as sustainability, animal welfare and provenance than ever before, many dairy businesses are seeking out better ways to innovate and develop their milking strategies in order to thrive in a changing market.

Global population is expected to reach 10.5 billion people by 2067 – and with it an increased demand for sustainable sources of dairy.

Anticipating the changes that dairy farms will need to undertake going forward, more and more industry providers are dedicating time and resources towards unlocking that value for their customers.

Smarter milking

Fullwood Packo’s most recent automated robot – the M²erlin – promises a relaxed milking environment for cows and their farmers, resulting in better results and smoother operation, fitted with advanced smart technology that makes milking more productive and efficient than ever before.

In just the first half of 2020, several notable features have been added to improve the milking experience – all directly based on feedback from farmers.

The latest firmware and machine control update has increased attachment speeds while making them more reliable, for a milking process that is more efficient and pleasant for both the cow and the farmer.

The near-silent arm has also been adjusted for even smoother movement that is less disruptive to the cow without compromising efficacy.

M²erlin has been praised by users for its smart features and clever use of the latest tech to refine and streamline milking operations.


New and improved sensors have increased the amount of data collected during milking, which then synchronises with the M²erlinInfo smartphone app for remote access and utilities.

This includes customisable alarms for any issues during milking or cleaning, with farmers now able to set milking benchmarks for their cows and receive alerts if they are not met.

A new teat detection system has also been launched: The TDS2. A reliable and effective sensor, the TDS2 keeps the M²erlin robust and ready for the future, able to handle the often challenging environment of a dairy farm.

The M²erlinInfo app is also receiving constant updates, adding layers of intuitive functions that give farms all the information they need to measure, monitor and maximise their milking.

Taking heavy and repetitive physical work out of it

Gerard and Angela Brickley farm an 80ac grassland farm in one block, located at Coolrain, Portlaoise.

The farm is on the edge of the Slieve Bloom mountains and is surrounded by two rivers. It is susceptible to flooding from both rivers, and the soil is also susceptible to compaction.

“Because of this, and the fact that we were going to try for higher yields, we opted for a mainly indoor system, achieving an average of 2.4 milkings per cow per day,” they said.

“As we’re no longer in the first flush of youth ourselves, we decided on robotic milking. It takes all of the heavy and repetitive physical work out of it.”

The Brickleys initially installed an older, second-hand Fullwood Merlin robot, as the new M²erlin was not yet on the market – with the view of replacing this with the M²erlin when available. They did this after 12 months, and find the “M²erlin much easier to work with”.

Everyone who sees it remarks on the silence of the arm, and we think it is certainly a help in settling in heifers quicker onto the machine. Of course it is also much cheaper to run than the old one.

“We were always trying to maximise income from our limited acreage and so we like to have the genetics in the herd as good as possible, and are forever improving it,” the said.

“The M²erlin gives us the tools to select which cows to keep – whether it’s milking speed, conductivity, production or a range of other traits – we have the individual information on each cow to help us make the selection decisions.”


Milk volumes last year for all completed lactations were 8,726kg/cow at 4.26% fat and 3.52% protein. Fleckvieh don’t peak as high or as early in lactation as Holsteins ensuring much better condition in early lactation.

The Brickleys sell stock bulls and surplus in-calf heifers from their Pedigree Fleckvieh herd and they are able to show potential buyers accurate production records for the mothers.

It gives the customers great confidence in the accuracy of the data – volumes, fat and protein %, number of inseminations, calving interval – everything is there at a glance.

“Overall, we’re very happy with the move. The machine supplies great information on the individual cows and, on the rare occasions when there is a malfunction = as all machines do – the backup is always available,” they concluded.

For further information on the M²erlin, just click here