'A good set-up will also deliver on quality of life' - Tipp dairy farmer on his €1,000/cow parlour

Joe Hennessy in the newly constructed dairy on his farm at Clerihan, Co Tipperary
Joe Hennessy in the newly constructed dairy on his farm at Clerihan, Co Tipperary

Martin Ryan

It takes about 80 minutes to complete each milking on Joe Hennessy's farm with a new 16-unit Dairymaster Swingover Parlour for the 116 cow herd which he describes as "efficient and labour saving".

Joe has more than doubled his herd in the past seven years and with a young family and his wife in off-farm employment, he has no immediate plans for further expansion.

"I believe that there has to be some quality of life to the job and I'm finding that a good set up is a great help," he said of his decision to go for a green field development.

The outlay has been just shy of €1,000/cow, after the grant assistance, including the automatic cluster removers, in-parlour electronic feeding system, teat sprayer unit and air operated entrance and exit gates.

He drew the line at the more sophisticated add-ons, which he felt would not deliver enough to justify the additional outlay.

"It is very hard to get good reliable labour and I am extremely fortunate that I have an excellent young woman that is really dependable to take over when I take a day off, get a holiday break, or when the work load is heavy in the spring time," he said.

"This unit is just perfect for what I expected from it. It is operating well. I am aiming at getting the milking time back to an hour but it is not running more than 20 minutes over."

Teagasc specialist advisor, Tom Ryan told farmers attending the event on Joe's farm that "the more (add-ons) you have the higher the cost of maintenance, but most people can't manage without feeders and an auger system.

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"If you can't afford ACRs put in the swing arms and you can add the ACRs later but most people are putting them in at the start.

"Go for a good balanced unit without going overboard on expenditure. The capital costs of a unit can be high.

"Don't be going for what you can't afford to finish, because some people have run out of money to finish their units after they had failed to make adequate provision and costs do generally run over the target."

He advised looking at different units and getting a number of quotations, but warned that "trying to compare costs on quotations from suppliers is not easy" and suppliers have become very wary of people trying to compare prices.

"Dairy units can cost anything from €2,000 to €8,500/cow depending on what you go for. Make sure that all of the work is covered in the quotation and there is no harm in doing a bit of dealing with the salesman, because they are used to that."

Indo Farming