Farm Ireland

Thursday 24 August 2017

Case Study 1

Charles Crosse milks 150 Holstein cows in a milk production partnership with his parents Tom and Phyllis at Grantstown Hall, Kilfeacle, Co Tipperary.

Although they are currently constrained by quota, the family intend to expand cow numbers and change their herd to Jersey-cross cows in the coming years. Their target is to produce 450kg of milk solids per cow and increase stocking rate to 3.3cows/ha when quotas go in 2015.

"The old parlour was installed in 1995," explains Charles. "It was a DeLaval parlour with 12 units, automatic cluster removers and milk recording jars. Each cow's freezebrand was manually entered into the computer when she was milked.

"At that time, my father put in a pit long enough to accommodate 16 units but only installed 12 units," he says.

However, when Charles went about pricing the additional units, he realised that it would amount to a significant cost for just four extra cows per milking.

After talking to dairy adviser Bertie Troy from consultancy firm Dairy Tech, Charles decided to go with a different plan. "Instead of going back for the four units we went forward from the pit," he explains. O'Dwyer Steel and Hourigan Construction were called in to double the size of the existing shed, giving room for 64 more cubicles, a straw-bedded calving area and room for the new parlour.

"I decided to go with a new parlour from Milfos Ireland. It's a 33-unit machine with dumpline, automatic cluster removers, auto washer and plate cooler," Charles says.

"I originally bought a 24-unit machine but when the pit was being constructed I decided to go up to 33 units. It was a long way to walk and I thought I might as well be milking instead."

The cows are fed with a batch-feeding system that delivers a set amount of feed per cow into a single pipe-like trough. The cows have an adjustable rail in front of them and a rumprail behind.

"It's a simple, New Zealand-style system that suits scale and efficiency," he explains.

"I milked in one in Cork before we bought ours and I liked the improved cow flow it creates."

The parlour should also suit the Grantstown herd as it changes to smaller Jersey-cross cows in the coming years.

"The most important lesson I learned was that planning is crucial for expansion," insists Charles. "I could have done a rush job and gone for 16 units but instead we have a new 33-unit parlour ready for expansion post-quota."

Indo Farming