Henry Walsh: We're banking on the new parlour to cut costs in 2019
I want to begin by wishing everyone a safe and healthy 2019. Thankfully, there was a 40pc reduction in fatal farm accidents in 2018 - and through education and awareness we can continue to maintain this progress.
This year, our local IFA branch is looking to get an initiative off the ground where we bring a number of four-member groups together from the branch for a day to openly discuss farm-safety issues on our farms. The initiative will include visiting the four farms involved to identify areas where we can improve on.
Safety must continue to be an absolute priority for all of us this year, but another area that is glossed over is farmers' health.
There is no doubt that 2018 tested every farmer's mental and physical well-being and it is an area we must also focus because no other sector is as exposed to the array of challenges we face. These include income, workload, weather, compliance and regulation. My farming wish for this year is simple, an ordinary year without extremes.
I am expecting 2019 to be another very eventful year full of change. January has started the trend with another new phrase 'Veganuary', to add to Brexit and climate change among others.
The ever-increasing standards expected of us are coming relentlessly, while at the same time, costs are rising - particularly feed and fertiliser - and some commodity prices are falling.
We are very much looking forward to milking in the new parlour this year, and it should give a huge boost to everyone on the farm as the workload will reduce dramatically.
The old eight-unit herringbone was built in 1976 and we extended to 16 units in 2002 when we made the move from winter milk to spring calving.