George, Lorna and Andrew Collier are milking 300 dairy cows on a 175ac grazing block, three miles outside Carlow town. Less than a year ago, in October 2021, they made a significant change and purchased four Lely A5 Robots.
Their herd consists of a 50:50 split of spring and autumn calvers where the herd’s current milk yield is 24L – protein is 3.43% and butterfat is 4.21%.
The herd’s Total Bacterial Count (TBC) is at 3,000cells/ml and Somatic Cell Count (SCC) is at 104,000cells/ml. The herd’s milk solid average is 625kg/cow.
The Collier’s farm
Discussing the family farm’s background, Andrew said: “We were milking 300 cows in a 26-unit herringbone parlour and at peak, milking was taking 3.5 hours in the morning and 2.5 hours in the evening, a total of six hours/day.
“Something had to change. I have a young family at home and I was hoping to spend some time with them, so something had to change.
“With that, we purchased four Lely Robots a year ago. The motorway went through our land; 20% of our land is this side of the road and 80% is across the motorway.
“We access the land via an overpass and cows have a nice bit of walking to do but it’s working quite well now,” he said.
Talking about the Collier’s decision to install robotic milking systems on their farm, George said: “I have been milking cows for over 45 years and we wanted to free up some time to have a better lifestyle.
“I was looking for something to save labour and to give us a degree of flexibility to work the hours we want and take some time off when we wanted to.
“To be fair, the robot has been a dream – cows are more content, they are milking well, animal health is very good and it has given us more time to manage grass.”
George and Andrew didn’t look at many other makes of robotic milking systems. Instead, they dealt directly with Lely Mullingar for back up and support.
Lely Mullingar handled the whole process from start to finish including the barn design, roadways, buildings and layout, grazing plans, installation, commissioning and start up support of the four robots.
The Colliers even managed the build with Lely’s project co-ordination team. The Colliers confirmed that they found the team to be very knowledgeable and easy to deal with, with George saying:
“The installation was fast, the back up and support is excellent and the start-up was very smooth.
“Cows slipped a little in milk yields but were back up one month later. They are flying now and we are very happy.
“We are delighted to be able to show people our set up and everybody is welcome [to the open day],” said George.
Carlow open day (Lely Mullingar)
Lely is hosting an open day on Wednesday, June 22, at 11.30a.m on the Collier’s farm in Tinryland, Co. Carlow.
To see the 4 Lely A5 Robots in action, those interested can register for this event by clicking here.
The day will consist of seven stations located around the farm:
- Introduction: Lely Mullingar’s team will introduce Collier’s farm and their system in terms of cows, breeds, yields, milk quality etc. The team will also provide an overview of Lely Center Mullingar;
- Barn design and yard planning: Lely Mullingar’s barn design team will discuss the ideas of robot placement, building design, cow flow and cow traffic to and from the robot;
- How does the robot work: Lely Mullingar’s technical team will discuss the details on what happens once the cow enters the robot until she is milked and exits the robot;
- Grazing management and grass walk: Lely Mullingar’s Farm Management Support (FMS) team will discuss ABC grazing, roadways, paddock sizes, drinkers, everything about growing/utilising and maximising grass, and feeding buffer forage such as maize and beet silage;
- Heat detection and health monitoring: A representative from MSD and a local veterinarian will discuss Allflex’s SenseHub collars and how this and other robot technologies are best used to gain valuable information within the farm gate;
- Lely discovery robotic yard scraper: Lely Mullingar’s sales team will discuss the features, functions and workings of the Lely discovery robotic yard scraper;
- Refreshments: Refreshments will be offered on the day along with a live Q and A with Lely Mullingar’s team.
All are welcome to attend this event and and see four Lely Astronaut A5 milking robots in action on the Collier’s farm located in Tinryland, Co. Carlow (R93 CP40).
The farm will be signposted from the main roads.
Alternatively, contact Michael O’Grady on: 087 406 1982.