The farm converted to dairying in late 2021 operating an indoor system with 2 Lely Astronaut A5 robots alongside a Lely Collector slurry scraper, Lely Calm automatic calf feeder and most recently added a Lely Vector Automatic feeding robot.
Tommy & Aidan O’Harte farm near Clones, Co. Monaghan. The farm converted to dairying in late 2021 operating an indoor system with 2 Lely Astronaut A5 robots alongside a Lely Collector slurry scraper, Lely Calm automatic calf feeder and most recently added a Lely Vector Automatic feeding robot. They recently hosted an on farm open day to display their system and showcase their herd of pedigree Fleckvieh cows.
Farm manager Eddie Courteny looks after the running of the farm day to day. With the level of automation in place on farm he is able to focus his full energy to the management of the herd and it shows in the herds first year performance. The herd is made up of 90% 1st lactation heifers and even with this the herd is expected to produce 7,000ltrs of milk per cow with 510kg MS.
Tommy decided to go for an indoor system with a Silage diet given the “land type and the type of cow we wanted to milk”. Originally the plan was to replace the prize winning suckler herd with high yielding Holstein Friesian cows but later changed to the Fleckviehs. The idea was to get a cow that could produce quality milk off forage that would be robust and fit to last beyond 6 lactations. Initially Tommy is happy with the herd performance and is looking forward to seeing where the herd matures to.
Lely Vector benefits
Eddie has found that since starting up the Vector time spent feeding is well reduced. “We were spending up on 1.5 hours a day feeding before starting as we were feeding 3 different diets to different groups, were now only spending 45-60mins 3 times a week to fill up the kitchen and that is enough to feed the 3 groups for 3 days” Kitchen fills happen on a Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Eddie noted “since starting to cut blocks with the triolet block cutter feed blocks are staying fresh up to 4-5 days in the kitchen especially now in colder weather”. The block cutter has also speeded up kitchen fill times compared to the shear grab being used before as each block is approx. 1.4-1.6m tall instead of 0.8-1m tall using the shear grab.
As the Vector is feeding to need there is minimal waste from the feed fence. “We are sweeping up the feed barriers once a week and removing around a wheelbarrow full of feed.” The regular push ups and constant trickle of fresh feed gives a great advantage in minimising waste as there is never a big quantity of feed that is heating across the day.
Since starting up the Vector the already content herd of cows have no reason to rush anywhere. “When the Vector goes out to feed there’s no longer a full barrier of cows eating because they are never hungry” Eddie explained.
Future Proofing the Farm
“With rising labour cost and labour shortages we wanted to embrace technology to create an ideal work environment for staff that would” Tommy mentioned when asked about his reasons for investing in so much automation on farm.
Along with all the Automation on farm they also avail of Lely Horizon to manage their herd of cows and to turn all the data coming from the Vector and Astronauts into easily read reports. “The monitoring of cows is excellent, We can tell a cow is about to get sick before she shows any physical signs thanks to the collar giving us rumination and eating minutes” Eddie said. With this early information the Astronauts can separate the cow from the main herd for inspection at her next milking. The fact the cow is picked up so early there is very little antibiotic treatments used on farm.
Tommy was explaining how useful the information from the Vector is when planning diet “we can see exactly how much kgs of Dry Matter we are getting into cows” This helps to tailor the diet to get the best out of the cow’s small changes are easily tracked for improvements and can be acted on early before yield drops if issues arise.
For more information contact Lely Center Mullingar on 044 9330320