Equipment sales booming despite milk price slump

Dairymaster's Swiftflo Goat Rotary milking system won a global innovation award last month.
Dairymaster's Swiftflo Goat Rotary milking system won a global innovation award last month.

Jamie Ball

A Kerry-based dairy equipment manufacturer has experienced record sales in Ireland this year, in spite of the downturn in milk prices.

CEO and technical director of Dairymaster, Dr Edmond Harty, told the Farming Independent that since the opening of the new TAMS II Dairy Equipment Scheme in June, sales of the its dairy equipment are up at least 50pc.

"The one thing I think Irish farmers are good at is taking a long-term view. We see the most efficient dairy farmers gradually expanding. People are very positive about their long-term future, as there is a huge need for protein in the world," he said.

Founded in 1968, Dairymaster employs about 275 people - about 65 of whom have been hired in the last year. Dr Harty said he hopes to add another 50 staff in the coming year. About 75pc of the company's products are exported, chiefly to Germany, Holland, UK, US, Australia and New Zealand.

Dr Harty said as dairy cow herds get larger in Ireland, more efficient milking is key, rather than working longer or harder.

"Some people are doing it with robotics, but you are milking one cow at a time, so you don't have scale.

"From what we have seen, the most efficient farmers are not expanding like that. If they take the long-term view and see themselves taking on more than 200 cows, then they're going for a rotary."

Innovation

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Meanwhile, Dairymaster's Swiftflo goat rotary was last month awarded a gold medal for innovation at Eurotier in Germany, the world's leading trade fair for animal production.

Earlier this month it received an honourable mention in the tech innovation award category at the Engineers Ireland Annual Excellence Awards.

"It's a whole new way of milking goats that allows you to milk one every 2.5 seconds. One person can typically milk about 1,300 goats by themselves, which is very important as goats have smaller milk yields than cows," said Harty.

What separates Swiftflo goat rotary from the competition, according to Dr Harty, is the robotic carriage beneath each goat: the operator only has to take the two teat cups and attach them.

"Goat farming in Ireland is relatively small, compared to international markets. All goat rotaries sold are outside of Ireland."

He added that the award-winning rotary, which was launched about 18 months ago and has dozens of installations across several countries, is specifically geared for larger herds of 1,000 goats upwards.

"There is not a lot at that scale in Ireland. It's still a pretty niche market," he admitted.

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