Thursday, August 9th is the date set for the hotly anticipated open day on the farm of new dairy entrants, Ivan, Susan and David Thomas.
The open day is hosted by the Lely Center Mullingar Robotic Milking Specialists and will take place from 12pm until 4pm at the Thomas farm in Rahan, Tullamore Co. Offaly.
The Farm -
New entrants into the dairy industry in January of this year. Ivan and Susan are currently milking 102 Spring calving cows in a farm partnership with their son David, who is a B.Ag.Sc UCD graduate.
Performance - Average milk yields are 20 litres, protein is 3.42% and 4.11% butterfat. TBC’s are 4,000 and SCC’s are running at 94,000 cells per ml.
The family had previously kept a Suckler herd, finishing all the animals for beef. This was until their son David decided upon graduation that he wanted to come home to farm. Knowing that there would not be enough out of a suckler herd to provide two incomes, the family then decided to take the plunge and go dairy.
“We had 60 Limousin X cows and some tillage here – my son David was finishing up in UCD, Dublin with a B.Ag.Sc and always wanted to come home to farm.”, said Ivan.
“We felt our farm wasn’t capable of giving us two incomes so we decided to look at dairying.” he added.
David and Ivan pictured above. Picture - Lely Centre Mullingar.
The family then upon studying the market and examining what was best for their farm, decided that milking robots best suited their system and facilities already in place. They then went onto purchase two Lely Robots.
“We looked at all the options on the market including milking parlours but believed that milking robots was better suited to our yard. Granted, a good spec 20 unit herringbone was going to be 30,000 less but there was going to be extra building work required. A new parlour, collecting yard and dairy would have consisted of a new build away from the main sheds and it wouldn’t tie in with the existing yard.” Ivan noted.
“With that, we decided to buy 2 Lely Robots, convert some existing slatted houses into cubicles and put in 2 extra slatted tanks. The building work was minimal and we worked closely with the Yard Design and Farm Planning team in Lely Center Mullingar to make the existing yard work for us` says Ivan.
How the robots have helped -
David Thomas said the information provided by the Lely robots has enabled them to be one step ahead of everything.
“The information generated is very impressive; automatic heat detection, rumination, somatic cell counter, mastitis detection, feed to yield, daily milk protein & fat indication and automatic cow drafting are very good.” said David.
“We thought there was too much information at the start but now, we only look at the dashboard and get the information we need to make daily decisions” David added.
Future plans -
The family hope to increase their milking herd from 102 to 140-strong by next Spring, while also phasing out the remaining beef stock.
“We have a decent land base in one block here and are currently phasing out the beef stock at the moment – we plan to calve down 140 cows next spring and drive things on. ”Ivan noted.
“We are very happy with our investment and the services Lely Center Mullingar provide.”, he added.
As mentioned, the open day takes place this coming Thursday, August 9th, at the farm near Rahan, Tullamore Co. Offaly. Farm gates open at 12pm with the open day finishing up around 4pm.
Don’t worry if you cannot be in attendance, as ThatsFarming will be there with some Facebook live and Snapchat coverage.