‘Labour was hard to come by’ – Why this dairy farmer went the ‘rotary route’
Since the abolition of milk quotas in 2015 and the subsequent expansion of many dairy enterprises all across the country, it has become apparent that a shortage of labour is a significant concern for the sector.
As a result, rotary milking parlours – such as the one developed and constructed by Pearson Milking Technology – have become more popular in recent years due to the reductions in both labour requirements and time they afford at milking.
Pearson Milking Technology is an Irish company based in Athy, Co. Kildare.
Cutting down on labour needs, as well as the simplicity that the Pearson rotary system offers, are the primary reasons that one farm in Co. Offaly went for Pearson’s rotary option.
Joe Maher farms in partnership with his two uncles, Peter and Tommy Comerford, in Dunkerrin.
“When we decided to do the parlour, we decided we needed simplicity. Firstly, for ourselves, but also if we wanted to go away, we needed to have it simple for someone to come in and do the milking,” Joe explained.
“Traditionally it was a suckler and dairy farm. In 2010 I went and did the Green Cert in Gurteen Agricultural College. Then I came home to farm here fulltime. And when the decision was made to come home and farm fulltime, we decided we were going to go up in dairy cow numbers and down in the sucklers.
“We went with a Pearson machine in 2015. The reason we went with them is that we had the same service man here for the last 30 years, from Hackett Enterprises over in Thurles, and he recommended Pearson. So we didn’t hesitate, we went straight for Pearson with a 14-unit herringbone and continued on with Pearson,” Joe outlined.
When the herd expanded, it was clear to Joe and his uncles that the infrastructure would need updating in line with that.
“When we decided to update the machine further as the herd was expanding, we said we needed to go bigger. So we went around looking at different types of machines. Herringbones, rotaries, the whole lot.
“Initially we had decided on a 30-unit herringbone, but with a bit of further thought, we felt that labour was getting harder to come by, so we said we would bite the bullet and we went down the rotary route,” Joe said.
The Co. Offaly farmer continued: “We went and looked at a couple of different rotaries. When going around looking at the different machines, the one thing that stood out was the ease of use on Pearson machines, like speeding it up and slowing it down as the operator requires.”
The Pearson rotary parlour has a unique double beam rotary undercarriage, as well as a simple, straightforward single push button.
“It’s a one-person operation, which is a big help when labour isn’t easy to get,” Joe pointed out.
Joe and his uncles decided to increase the size of the shed where the machine would be housed, and the whole civil construction side of the installation was a straightforward affair.
One of the main stand-out features of the Pearson rotary machine, Joe said, was the jetters.
“As regards the jetters, the way they face, we don’t have to go around pulling them off and setting up boxes. As soon as we press the milk button we’re ready to milk. Once you’re finished, we don’t have to open any boxes to put on the clusters for the wash,” he explained.
Another feature of the machine that grabbed Joe’s attention is the wash gland.
“That was one thing we spotted when we were going around to different places, and it’s a great thing.
“Technically, it’s turning our rotary parlour into a side-by-side crush. So when we are coming to breeding season, we’ll be able to turn back in our cows, and AI the cows while its washing,” Joe noted.
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