Lely Center Mitchelstown will be hosting an in-person open day on the farm of Michael Barrett, near Newcastlewest, Co. Limerick on Thursday, July 22, to showcase his robotic milking system.

Michael is currently milking 129 cows with two Lely Astronaut A5 robots and a Lely Grazeway providing access to an ABC grazing system. He first made the decision to switch to robotic milking due to the time flexibility offered.

“We also run a contracting business here so the robots freed up more time and it was a lot more flexible in when the work was done,” said Michael.

Michael first starting milking with Lely robots in March 2020 and saw the benefits immediately. He uses the information on the individual cows provided by the Astronaut A5 to measure his herd’s health.

He was also provided with assistance from Lely farm management support advisors, which eased the transition from the milking parlour to the new system.

From 2 hours to 45 minutes

Michael used to spend a minimum of two hours every morning at 6:00a.m and every evening at 5:00p.m retrieving and milking his cows. Now that he has made the switch to Lely Astronauts, he only spends roughly 45 minutes in the morning checking and cleaning the robots and changing fences as well as a few other minor jobs.

He is no longer tied to the 6:00a.m start, so he decides for himself when it is best to do these jobs.

In the evening, Michael has a lot more freedom to spend time with his family or his contracting business as the jobs take less time and do not have to be completed by a certain time.

“Whether I’m back in the evening at 6:00p.m or 8:00p.m or even 10:00p.m, the jobs are there waiting for me or I could even get either of my two teenagers, Aoife and Mikey, to do them because they are not hard jobs to do,” said Michael.

Michael Barrett

Herd production

Michael’s herd is currently producing 5,700L/cow, but Michael feels that his cows have the genetic potential to reach 6,500L/cow in the next few years. He hopes to achieve this by utilising the information provided by the Astronaut A5.

He can now measure each cow’s performance yield, butterfat and protein being recorded every milking accurately, in order to decide which cows to breed from, and more time can be devoted to grass management.

The biggest change Michael has found for his cows is that they are under far less pressure than before. They visit the robots are their own pace, which has greatly benefitted their overall health and reduced lameness in his herd. With cell count monitoring conductivity and milk colour analysis of every drop of milk, he feels udder health has improved since he made the switch.

“Lameness has gone down significantly in my cows because they are under less pressure to move around. They move at their own pace, they’re more comfortable and it’s improving their health,” he said.

Juggling family life, cows and a significant contracting business was always a challenge on this farm and since Michael switched to milking his cows with Lely, he has seen a benefit with the flexibility robotic milking can have around work routines.

“I’ve been running my contracting business (Michael Barrett Contracting Ltd.) since 1994. Cutting 2,500ac of pit silage, bailing, hedge cutting and spreading slurry.

“Installing the robots has allowed me to spend more time on the contracting business, giving me the opportunity to expand, take on more work and also supervise the contracting more, as I’m not tied to any milking times,” Michael concluded.

To find out more about Michael Barrett’s experience changing to robotic milking, Lely are hosting an open day, where you will hear from Michael as well as the Lely Center Mitchelstown team about how robotic milking could be the right move on your farm.

In accordance with HSE guidelines, there will be a limited number of attendees and each attendee will have to register with the time slot that best suits them. The available times are as follows:

  • 11:00a.m – 1:00p.m;
  • 1:00p.m – 3:00p.m;
  • 3:00p.m – 5:00p.m.

The farm will be signposted from the N21 between Newcastlewest and Templeglantine, an some light refreshments will be offered.

Click here to register online, or call any of the numbers below to register by phone:

Lely Center Mitchelstown Office025 41665
Brian O’Riordan087 936 7774
Kevin Quilter087 340 5190