Heat detection helping hand for tail painters

When it comes to identifying, developing and creating new devices to help us on the land, surely there is none better than the entrepreneurial farmer to be leading the charge.

The farmer after all is the one in the driver’s seat, and is well aware of what is needed and of how our lives could be improved by such innovations.

Agrify Solutions is a company set up in 2017 in Ballydesmond, Co Cork which has a specific focus on development of products that reduce stresses for farmers, by solving common farming problems.

There is a strong focus on farm safety within the company, not least as a consequence of a farmyard accident involving one of the company founders, Liam O’Keeffe.

In 2007, Liam was left seriously injured after being attacked by a bull.

The accident, in so many ways, was a game changer for Liam, he never looked at farming in the same way again.

Since its foundation, Agrify Solutions have successfully introduced many time saving, practical and safety-relevant devices designed to help the under-pressure farmer, most notably their Tyre2Tyre product.

Their latest product is the Tailpainter.

With calving season concluding, the dairy farmer’s attention quickly turns to the breeding season.

Effective heat detection is, of course, an essential part of dairy farming, both as a driver of farm profitability, improving annual milk yields, as well as reducing the carbon footprint of the overall herd.

Heat detection is needed to determine the optimum time to schedule the AI technician.

The best practice would be to get all cows in calf at the first attempt, and within a six-week period.

Liam, as well as being a dairy farmer, is also an AI technician, and he visits hundreds of farms in the north Cork region in this role.

Liam explains where the concept of the Agrify Solutions Tailpainter originated.

“When visiting farms, I see the massive labour effort that is required through April and into May to carry out effective tail-painting.

“I see farmers climbing the sides of parlour pits and applying paint with a paint-brush, at high risk of falling, slipping or getting kicked by cows.

“I also understand that in today’s farming environment, it is extremely difficult to get extra help to run a full herd of cows through a crush for tail-painting, this is what led us to the design of a new product.”

A recent survey on heat detection in Ireland, carried out by Teagasc together with Agrify Solutions, showed that 68% of Irish farmers depend on tail-painting as a method for heat detection.

Tail-painting involves applying a special animal paint or tail-paint to the very top of the cow’s tail.

This is carried out at the beginning of the heat detection period, around April 1.

For the most efficient heat detection, the tail-paint is checked regularly and topped up as needed.

Once the cow is in heat, that cow will be mounted by another cow, thereby resulting in the paint being removed, making it easy for the farmer to identify the cow in heat and to schedule AI accordingly.

For many farmers, the challenge with the use of tail-paint is in how to easily, safely and quickly apply tail-paint.

The Agrify Solutions Tailpainter was originally launched at the National Ploughing Championships last September.

With its extendable arm, tail-painting can be carried out safely from the milking parlour pit in just a few seconds per cow, there is no mess, and the work can easily be carried out by a farmer without additional help.

The Tailpainter can also be used from behind a lock-in barrier or at a cattle crush (go to www.tailpainter.com to see how it is used).

Tail-paint bottles from the top paint suppliers, including both water and oil-based paints, can be attached directly.

Alternatively, the Tailpainter kit comes with a one-litre container, allowing the farmer to take animal paint from any container and use it with the Tailpainter.

The Tailpainter is manufactured in Ballydesmond, Co Cork, by Agrify Solutions.

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