'It looks like our tail-painting device is going to take off'
MY WEEK Liam O'Keeffe
LIAM O'KEEFFE'S new farm innovation - 'The Tailpainter' - is a device which allows you to tail-paint a cow in a few seconds, from a place that is easiest and safest for you.
The Tailpainter could also become a real help in heat-detection.
Effective heat detection is a critical part of farming and been shown to be a key modulator of farm profitability.
Best practice in farming and herd management would suggest that the most efficient practice for a dairy herd would be to get all cows in calf on first attempt and within a six-week time period.
Tail-paint is already a well-proven method of cost- effective heat detection, Liam, a 47-year-old dairy farmer, says: "With the use the Tailpainter, tail-painting will now become more effective as a heat detection method.
"Given the interest we have seen in the Tailpainter product since we launched in early March, we think the product will take off."
Liam himself was the victim of a farm accident on June 5, 2007: he was kicked by a bull on his farm in Ballydesmond in north Cork.
"I was attacked by the bull and received injuries to my pelvis, coccyx and stomach and had to go through over 10 surgical procedures to deal with the injuries. It was a very stressful time but I am fine now," he says.
"I refer to the bull attack as my '5/6/7' incident," he jokes.
It was during his convalescence that he mulled over the ongoing problem of farm safety and accidents.
He was a fitter before taking over the family dairy enterprise in 1994 - it runs a herd of some 90 Holsteins and sells its milk to Kerry Co-Op.
Liam set up his farm safety company - Agrify Solutions - with his brother Ger and colleague Phil Miesle a few years ago and has been market-testing the tail-painting idea for over a year now.
The devices are manufactured at an on-farm plant in Ballydesmond.
"The breeding season is always a very busy time for farmers, coming directly after the calving season," says Liam.
"Most farmers struggle with effective management of heat detection due to the difficulty to apply the tail paint regularly to the cows tail.
"In fact, heat detection can be a real safety risk for many farmers due to the workload in involved.
"The new Tailpainter is a device that makes tail painting faster, easier and safer; it has the added advantage of being able to detect when the cows are in heat more accurately.
"And with more accurate heat detection, they can get the better timing for AI technician, eliminate the needs for teaser bulls, and avoid missed heats - making significant financial savings."
Liam, who completed his Green Cert at Gurteen Agricultural College back in the 1990, is married to Sinead and has four children - Daron (15), Aisling (7), Eadaoin (5) and Áine (2).
With the tail-painting device now on the market, Liam and the Agrify Solutions team have turned their attention to other future agri-related entrepreneurial projects.
The good news Liam says, is the farming sector has plenty problems to solve, so there is ample scope for innovation and future enterprise.
Learn more about the Tailpainter by visiting:
In conversation with Ken Whelan
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