Farm Ireland

Saturday 20 January 2018

Farm workers 'more productive' with tech aids

Louise Hogan

Louise Hogan

Farmers must check the costs of all investments carefully but there are substantial labour savings to be gained by investing in technology, according to Teagasc's Tom Ryan.

Mr Ryan said good facilities in a parlour and yard mean the farmer, family workers and hired labour will be much more content and efficient.

"You will also be able to rely more on employed labour and they'll be more productive when it is drudgery-free," he said.

"For some of the people it could be argued they are working way too hard at the moment."

He said it was essential to ensure good throughput in the parlour so one is not spending more than 75 minutes morning and evening in the pit and cows are not standing in the collecting yard for too long.

Enough milking units to match herd size and available milkers will go a long way to achieve this.

Automatic cluster removers detach clusters when cows are milked saving time while preventing teat end damage from over-milking. Custer removers ensure consistent milking even with different milkers. Swing arms clear up the centre of the pit, achieve better cluster alignment and reduce the weight and length of rubber tubing.

Automatic gates to the front and back that can be opened and closed from anywhere in the pit are also key time-savers, along with in-parlour feeding systems.

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Cow flow is improved through good light, a wide exit door, an open entrance and no steps into or out of the parlour. A backing gate will aid cow flow and throughput by allowing the milker to stay in the pit during milking.

Other tools include a 'dump' line to divert milk where required, while Mr Ryan said motion detectors for heat have been proved to be reliable and warranted.

He pointed out an autowasher leaves the machine ready to go for milking and saves time washing up after milking, while an air purge system saves time by purging residual milk after milking and the last of the rinse water after machine washing.

Mr Ryan said a drafting system to divert cows to a holding pen for AI, hoof-paring or veterinary treatment is a key time saver. "From a safety point of view and from an operational point of view those are very useful."

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