Three out of four dairy farmers currently using automatic drafting have said it was a great investment.
They were among dairy farmers who took part in a Teagasc online milking facility survey earlier this year, in which farmers were asked to rate their satisfaction with current technologies, and to pick the top three items they would like to add to their milking parlours.
The survey identified automatic drafting as the number one item on wish lists to add to the parlour.
Given that the survey was carried out during the breeding season, this may have somewhat influenced the choice of automatic drafting as a priority.
Of the farmers surveyed, 20% felt investing in automatic drafting was an “alright” decision, and 5% were not happy with their investment.
The Teagasc advice is to make sure that the drafting system chosen is easy to use, and the layout is well designed, for a very low missed cow rate.
Manual drafting systems were commonly used, but farmers felt that there were better solutions available.
A minority of the survey participants had an auto-heat-detection system on their farms, and 65% of them were very happy with the technology.
But 35% felt it was a poor investment decision.
Automatic cluster removers (ACRs) are another milking technology high on the wishlist of Irish dairy farmers.
On the farms that had them fitted already, ACRs came out as one of the highest rated items, and they were among the top items that farmers wanted to add to their parlour.
In-parlour feeding was also rated highly.
Auto washers on the milking machine also made the list of technologies with the highest satisfaction rating
Of the farmers in the survey, over 95% were milking in a herringbone parlour.
Around 6% of these were double up systems with units for cows on both sides, 11% were recording jar plants.
Only 3% were using rotary parlours, and less than 1% had robotic milking.
Over 40% were milking 10 rows of cows or more, one farmer was milking 25 rows.
The survey results are in the New Dairy Farm Infrastructure Workbook of advice to Help Farmers Plan for Future Growth, launched at last week’s Teagasc National Dairy Open Day in Moorepark.
Head of the Teagasc Animal and Grassland, Research and Innovation programme, Dr Pat Dillon encouraged all farmers to look at their farm infrastructure and consider where priority investments need to be made.
He said: “Improvements will be vital to maximise grass production and utilisation, particularly in the shoulders of the grazing season, and to ensure a sustainable milking routine and work schedule is achieved, and to control energy demand and efficiency on Irish farms.”
One of the workbook’s authors, John Upton, Teagasc, advised farmers to carefully monitor and control energy use. He said: “Tthe economics of new technologies should be assessed to facilitate effective cost control and use efficiency.”
And Pat Tuohy of Teagasc, Moorepark, said: “A well-designed, carefully built and properly maintained farm roadway system has many benefits, including, less lameness, less mastitis and better general animal health, faster and easier stock movement, cleaner cows and milk, less roadway maintenance and more efficient paddock access.”
The Dairy Farm Infrastructure Workbook, produced by Teagasc in partnership with Ulster Bank, is available to download from the publications section of the www.teagasc.ie website.