Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Tuesday 26 September 2017

Farmers who upgrade have now doubled their capacity

Farmers upgrading their parlours in order to expand are choosing a range of parlour systems and are typically doubling their milking capacity, according to DeLaval's midlands area manager, Seamus Goggin.

"A farmer with 10 units is going up to 20 units generally, while the man with 15 or 16 units is going to 30 units," he said.

"The main focus for farmers expanding is to move to a parlour size that matches the maximum cow numbers he can take on the land," said Mr Goggin.

"They don't want to be limited by the number of units when it comes to the post-quota era."

Depending on the farmer's own preference, they can choose a basic-style machine with a basic pig feeding system and no cluster removers or over-milking protection.

However, they can also choose to add automatic cluster removers (ACRs) or a dual-vaccum system which drops the vacuum levels on cows that are finished milking.

"The dual vaccum systems and ACRs prevent teat end damage, which leads to high cell counts," said the DeLaval agent.

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"More and more farmers are becoming aware of the dangers of over-milking the cows.

"They can count the cost of over-milking in their pocket, through higher cull rates and higher levels of mastitis."

At the more automated end of the scale, farmers can add feed-to-yield feeding systems, milk meters and automatic drafting facilities.

Feed-to-yield systems are the preferred choice of many liquid milk producers and high input system farmers.

"Feeding to the cow's individual yield means you can control how much each cow gets and save money by not over-feeding certain cows," added Mr Goggin.

There is also growing trend towards in-line milk recording facilities in the new machines being installed.

"By and large, milk jars are seldom fitted these days," said the dairy equipment specialist.

"Farmers are choosing between milk indicators, which can only be used for their own records, or ICAR-approved milk meters that are recognised for milk recording."

A basic type of machine costs in the region of €2,500/unit, not including feeders or cooling equipment.

Moving up in spec, the standard machines, including ACRs and milk indicators cost in the region of €4,000/unit, while top-spec systems including feed-to-yield and automatic drafting start from around €6,500-7,000/unit.

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