Farmers discuss transition to robotic milking in ‘sunny south-east’

Close on 400 people attended a recent open day on robotic milking in the south-east of the country.

Hosted by Lely Center Enniscorthy, in association with Bank of Ireland, the event took place on the farm of Gerald and Henry Dunne, Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford.

The Dunnes made a successful transition from parlour to robotic milking, with the full operation visible under one expansive shed.

Prior to installing a Lely Astronaut robotic milking system, the Dunne family were once-a-day milking in a 12-unit herringbone parlour.

With labour saving a key driver for the father-son duo, three Lely A5 Astronaut milking robots were supplied by Lely Center Enniscorthy and installed on the farm in November 2018.

The system was commissioned and milking began in January 2019, with cows housed indoors full-time and fed with zero-grazed grass.

Commenting on his experience with the change-over, Henry Dunne said: “Since transitioning to our new system, it has allowed us to produce more milk per cow from the same acreage, with milk solids already exceeding our 2018 figures.

David Redmond of Lely Center Enniscorthy during the demonstration. Image source: Patrick Browne

“We milked 170 cows at max this spring and we plan to increase this to 195 cows, with an output up to 8,000L in the next two years.

Work-life balance has always been a key driver for us and the Lely A5 robots, Lely Discovery scraper, and the Juno feed pusher has allowed us to achieve this effectively.

During the open day, a key message given was to identify a system that best suits one’s individual needs to get the most out of changing to robotic milking.

A range of speakers from Lely Center Enniscorthy gave an insight into robotic milking and the process involved from start-up to post installation.

Tom O’Leary, general manager of Lely Center Enniscorthy (centre) with Gerald and Henry Dunne on their farm in Bree, Enniscorthy. Image source: Patrick Browne

Areas discussed included yard planning and design, milk data analysis and animal nutrition.

The newly appointed dedicated farm management support advisor, Catherine Heffernan, stated that her main aim going forward is to assist farmers in their transition to robotic milking and help them set out and achieve their goals.