How these Co. Antrim farmers made the transition to GEA robotic milking

Cahal and Conor Casey of Carnhill Holsteins have been milking near Cloughmills, north Antrim, on this farm for many generations. Over the years, the herd has grown to 170 cows and followers today.

They are currently milking 120 cows through two robots, with a third robot being installed this autumn to become a fully robotic milking herd.

All the female stock are genomically tested and, to date, 12 bulls have been sold to AI stations in the last eight years. Stock sales are a major contribution to the business, as well as other enterprises such as two poultry units on farm.

The farm objectives are:

  • To maximise overall farm profit;
  • To have a labour-efficient working environment;
  • To be able to spend more time with family.

The new robot system

“We started milking three times a day a number of years ago, which proved very beneficial for the cows yields; but sourcing on-going relief milkers was proving difficult,” according to Cahal.

In early 2018, the decision was made to go robotic milking and the GEA Monobox’s were chosen.

“We liked the pit area behind the cow. It gives great visibility and access to the cow, the fast attachment and everything happening in liner,” Cahal commented.

McKnight Dairy Services installed the Monobox’s in autumn 2018 and starting milking early October.

Installation and training

Cahal commented: “McKnight Dairy Services done a first-class professional job. There was no challenge that James, David and the boys couldn’t solve.

“The start was fairly stress free and most cows took to the system fairly quickly but the extra time we spent at the start up was definitely a big help in the long term.

“What with having already used the GEA management system the transition to the robot was an easy adjustment.”

Carnhill Holsteins outlines the top three benefits for the herd. “We have noticed an improvement in legs and lameness since starting robotic milking.”

“Cell counts always ran around 150 and were over the last few years. For the last few months we are down around 90; it has increased slightly recently as cows are due for drying off.

“The quarter conductivity is great; it allows us to get in early and treat with udder mint. The Monobox also allows me to separate per quarter giving us more control.

“In the last couple of weeks, when I started drying off cows, I noticed a huge improvement in teat condition. Cows temperament has changed; they are quicker to work with also.”

Carnhill Holsteins top three benefits for themselves

  • Cows’ hoof condition;
  • Cows’ temperament;
  • Flexible working times.

Carnhill Holsteins targets:

  • To produce over two million litres from three robots;
  • Looking forward to continuing to milk cows without the fixed times of parlour milking.

Below is a table which outlines Carnhill Holsteins’ main features and benefits of using the Monobox.

GEA would also like to extend its thanks and appreciation to the Casey family for opening their farm to the public to showcase the GEA Monobox system the latest in robotic technologies.