Designed for dairy expansion in Co Kildare
Farming in Burrow, Co. Kildare, Peter Anderson converted from sucklers to dairying in spring 2019 with the installation of a Lely Astronaut A5.
“The profitability of sucklers had declined so much I had to look at alternatives. Dairying had always been in my head, but I didn’t relish the idea of milking twice a day, when I am in my 50’s. I went and looked at a Lely robot at an open day and that made me decide to go with milk and go with a robot,” Peter said.
The cost of getting into dairying was kept to a minimum by converting existing sheds on the yard to accommodate the robot, milk tank and cubicles.
“We realised that with the sheds that were in the yard we wouldn’t have to do any new building at all,” Peter explained. “The robot itself was fitted into the creep area of an existing slatted suckler shed. We then put the bulk tank into a converted grain store, which was across the yard from where the robots are located - so we put a duct in underground to bring the milk line across.”
He continued; “this worked out very well, as it meant that we could keep the milk truck out of the yard where the livestock are.” One of the big advantages that has been seen with robotic milking as opposed to a traditional parlour is the flexibility that exists when designing a yard, with the robot and milk tank often located in different sheds on the yard, allowing for the best use of existing facilities.
Planning for two milking Robots
When the original yard plan was completed, Lely Mullingar yard design team made provisions for a second robot to be installed in the future, if desired.
“When the plan was done up by the team in Lely Mullingar it was done for two robots. At the time I smiled at the idea of a second robot and I said that it would be a while before that happened, but the first one worked out so well in year, one that I just had to go with the second one straight away,” Peter said.
Numbers have increased steadily on the farm over the past three years, from milking 64 heifers in year one, to 103 cows in year two to coincide with the installation of the second Astronaut A5, there will be 130 cows milking on the farm throughout 2021.
The focus on the farm is on incorporating as much grazed grass into the diet as possible with a spring calving system operated that sees cows go out to grass as soon as they calve. Performance of the herd has been impressive with average production in 2020 of 490kg of milk solids per cow. Peter sees this increasing over the next few years as the herd matures.
“The grazing worked out very well, I was worried that it would be difficult to get up to speed with the grassland management for a dairy system but because you are moving along all the time, day-by-day the grass is coming on behind you, so you are just going around in a circle and you get into it very quickly,” Peter outlined.
“There is a bit of work in the first year to ensure heifers move well through the system, in and out from grazing to be milked, but then in year two the cows pulled the heifers through with them, so it was far easier to get them used to the system.”
For more information contact Lely Center Mullingar on 044 9330320