Farm Ireland

Saturday 20 January 2018

First live robotic milking demo at Ratheniska

Derek Casey

Derek Casey

Lely, the world leader in robotic milking systems, and the NPA will join forces next week for the first ever live robotic milking demonstration at the National Ploughing Championships.

A herd of 40 cows will arrive at the Ploughing site in Ratheniska, Co Laois this weekend to settle in and get used to the environment. This will ensure that during Ploughing week they will be relaxed and milked at their leisure, just as they are on their home farm. This project has been in the planning stage for the past year and is expected to be one of the highlights of this year's Ploughing.

Lely claims it is changing the face of dairy farming in the 21st century, with the firm seeing its future in automating dairy farms in an animal-friendly way.

"Cows are more relaxed as they are allowed to express their natural behaviour and have the freedom of choice to be milked at any time of the day or night," says Lely's sales manager, Tomás Cooney.

"The cows are milked more frequently than in a traditional system which reflects what happens in nature where a calf suckles the cow many times a day. The Lely Astronaut A4 recognises each cow individually. Every event from birth until the day the cow leaves the farm is stored on the T4C ('time for cows') management programme which is then presented clearly to the farmer on a dashboard.

"It enables the farmer to supply an individual cow with all her needs for optimal health, milk production and well-being."

Speaking at the launch of the 2013 Championships on the farm of Anne and Aidan Power, NPA managing director Anna May McHugh said: "We always encourage companies to present new ideas at Ploughing. We were completely fascinated with the live milking idea proposed by Lely.

"After visiting a Lely farm we were truly amazed at the technology and at how quiet and content the cows were. The NPA are pleased to give the project the green light as the Lely Astronaut robotic milking system really proves again that agriculture is a specialised industry where technology plays a key role.

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"With the removal of milk quotas in 2015 we felt this project would be an ideal opportunity for Irish farmers to see what technology can do for their business in the future."

Ms McHugh added: "I've come across ploughmen checking that a ploughing venue had broadband so that they could check on their cows while away at the ploughing match. It's something that will interest everyone."

Lely introduced its first robotic milking machine in 1992 and 21 years later has more than 16,000 machines working worldwide, milking over a million cows every day.

The farmer can also access information on the herd on his mobile device and manage his cows from anywhere in the world.

Lely will host a presentation on the T4C management programme on the hour from 10am until 4pm on each day of Ploughing.

Irish Independent

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