Robotic milky way goes organic in Tipp
Organic farming echoes many of the principles of traditional farming and is often criticised for being old fashioned. However, many organic farmers argue that it is a highly advanced method of farming requiring intricate knowledge and skill. While organic farming has a younger age profile than conventional farming, some sectors are struggling to attract both new entrants.
Dairying is a case in point. In 2012, there were 28 organic dairy herds in Ireland, milking 2,890 cows. This is an 21pc increase in cow numbers since 2009. Organic herds tend to be smaller, with 30pc milking less than 25 cows.
One of the main deterrents to new entrants is that winter milking is usually a requirement. But the biggest issue is always price, especially when conventional prices are so strong.
But the scale and low input nature of organic dairying suits many farmers as a safer bet as a volatile post-quota period looms.
Pat Mulrooney has been certified with IOFGA for over 25 years and as such is a veteran of the organic sector. He is a founding member of The Little Milk Company, a multi-award winning organic dairy co-operative who produce a range of cheeses, including cheddar, brie, and beer-washed cheese.
Pat has recently invested in a Lely robot to carry out the milking on his farm.
"After initial research, it seemed like a good option for me. Currently my wife, Angela, and myself run the farm and additional labour costs to assist with milking were becoming prohibitive, so I started looking at robots. I liked the idea that it would reduce potential contamination in the herd and in time it will improve efficiencies and overall management on the farm" said Mr Mulrooney.