WATCH - First GEA monobox to be showcased at NI open day


The Donnell family are set to open their farm gates this coming Wednesday, October 17th, for a farm walk to showcase the latest addition to their dairy enterprise, a GEA Monobox. Watch and read more about it below!

WATCH - First GEA monobox to be showcased at NI open day

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  • 2 mths ago

The Donnell family are set to open their farm gates this coming Wednesday, October 17th, for a farm walk to showcase the latest addition to their dairy enterprise, a GEA Monobox. Watch and read more about it below!

Derick, Sylvia and Hall Donnell farm 73 ha beside Ballymogorry village just north of Strabane in Co Tyrone.

The farmyard is centrally situated with approx. 39ha around the yard and the remainder being outlying farms. The family have been milking approx. 100 Holstein Friesian cows since they took over the farm in 1989 and in 2011 they installed a 14 unit 90 degree Milfos swingover parlour from McKnight Dairy services. The cows were milked twice daily at 5 am and 5pm with the emphasis on grass production and feeding from mid-March until Mid-November depending on annual conditions.

GEA Monobox from That's Farming Media on Vimeo.

The farm objectives -

  • Maximise overall farm profit.
  • To have a labour efficient working environment.
  • To utilise forage from both grass and ensiled grass to its full potential.
  • To make efficient use of nutrients (fertiliser and slurry) while meeting current nitrates legislation.

The new robot system -
Robotic milking was always a plan in the background for the Donnell family and when a 12000L GEA tank was installed in 2012 it had to be robot ready.

“Last year we considered upgrading the Out Of Parlour Feeders and contacted our local dealer Mc Knight Dairy services”. Hall said.

After a few visits from dealer James Mc Knight and Roy Clarke of GEA Ireland, “the option of going ahead with robotic milking looked more appealing with the introduction of the Monobox to Northern Ireland. The milk price was good and we could see the potential benefits to our farm objectives and lifestyle. But really the cows made the decision, yields were steadily increasing each year from 7200L in 2010 to 9600L this year. Cows needed milking three times a day”, Hall added.

The Donnell family will host an open day on their farm this coming Wednesday, October 17th, from 11am to 3pm, showcasing the monobox in action. The farm is located at Park Road, Ballymagorry, Strabane, BT82 0AN.

Installation and Training -
The installation went according to plan, with the design being supplied by GEA’s local Dealer Technical support Declan Casey.

“James, David and their team at Mc Knights do very tasty work and were very efficient with the installation” commented Hall.

“The open design of the Monobox along with the silent operation and quick attachment made the start-up easier than expected. For two days we penned cows behind the robots and guided them, over the next two weeks the number of cows we needed to collect dropped every day” he continued.

The grazing block around the yard is divided by a public road and an underpass was not an option due to water levels. A grazing plan and layout was designed by GEA to allow cows to access to grass 16 hours daily on approx. 20 ha and 8 hours at the feed fence, depending on the time of year and weather conditions.

After two weeks, cows were allowed access to grass using a selection gate. Cows have access to Block A from 2am to 10am, (after they have been milked) then as they return for a second milking they are rewarded with fresh grass in Block B from 10am to 6pm. Any cows that come in after 6pm can access feed at the feed fence and stay in for the night.

“Allocation of grass is very important to encourage cows to move voluntarily and in May it was a difficult time to start this year with a big flush of grass. But once I got used to the new allocation and we got around the block a couple of times the cows were coming really well with no cows to collect since Mid-Summer”, Hall stated.

Hall’s top 3 benefits for the Herd -

  • “Now the cows are milking three times a day they are carrying less milk and not waiting around to be milked I have noticed an improvement in legs and lameness”.
  • “Cell Counts always ran around 150 were over the last few years. For the last few months, we are down around 90, it has increased slightly recently as cows are due for drying off. The conductivity is so accurate it allows me to get in early and treat with udder mint, the Monobox also allows me to separate per quarter giving me more control.
  • “In the last couple of weeks when I started drying off cows I noticed a huge improvement in teat condition, they are soft and healthy looking and no sign of warts or cuts on them. Cows temperament has changed they are quieter to work with”.

Hall’s top 3 benefits for himself -

  • “I don’t set the alarm anymore, in the morning I just get up when I wake”.
  • "I had a lot of work to catch up with after the startup and we are building the separation area, but it’s amazing how much more time I have”.
  • “ The flexibility is great if I’m at silage or spreading slurry I don’t have to stop to get cows in and can just carry on and get the job finished”

Hall’s future Goals -

  • “1 Million Litres from 100 cows or less”
  • “We currently use sex semen on between 22 and 24 cows each year for replacements. And then run the stock Bull. I might start to breed some more heifers as there is a good demand for our stock at the minute.
  • “Continue to enjoy farming”.

Features and Benefits of the Monobox

Feature

Benefit

Separation per quarter

Unique Design

It’s possible to separate milk from one quarter with 3 quarters directed to the bulk tank

Everything in Liner

Unique Design

No cross contamination of teats during the cleaning process

Cell Count reader

Unique Design

Uniquely the Cell count reader needs no reacting agent offering lower cost of ownership

Buffer tank Rinse

Unique design

Automatic tank rinsing after emptying of the buffer tank

Manual Attachment

Easy manual attachment, a great benefit while training heifers

Energy Efficient System

Efficient running cost from unique design features and efficient air compressor requirements.


As mentioned the farm walk takes place Wednesday, October 17th, commencing at 11am sharp and running until 3pm. All are welcome to attend.




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