Machinery and Equipment: Milk production at Golden Hill Farm goes state-of-the-art

Times have changed since the O’Hanlon family started farming on Golden Hill Farm in Co Kerry in 1876.

Machinery and Equipment: Milk production at Golden Hill Farm goes state-of-the-art

One of the first DeLaval auto-milking systems in Europe with ABC-grazing was set up on this predominantly spring-calving farm near Ballyduff, in 2014.

And now, they are the first in the Republic of Ireland to install DeLaval’s new Herd Navigator system.

Johnny O’Hanlon (40) runs the farm along with his parents, Gerard and Ann.

They keep a dairy herd of 130 animals with plans for further expansion.

Johnny believes the new farm management system is going to generate a new stream of valuable information on animal health and productivity, which will be invaluable to his business.

“If milk prices drop, you have to do what you’re doing more profitably.

“By being able to identify potential problems before they actually manifest themselves, we can reduce spend on antibiotics, keep our milk output constant and of the highest quality.

“It allows us to gather information through milk samples which we would never have been able to do efore,” said Mr O’Hanlon.

The idea of the technology is to inform the dairy farmer of what is happening in their herd.

DeLaval use the tag line ‘Having a full laboratory on the farm’ to illustrate where this kind of technology is helping farmers identify problems.

It will allow milk producers to identify significantly more cows in heat than can be seen with current heat detection aids such as activity meters, and to spot mastitis before it affects the milk.

Milk producers will also be made aware of cows affected by metabolic disorders such as clinical and-sub-clinical ketosis, before symptoms are visible to the naked eye.

The system also automatically measures components in the milk while the cow is being milked.

Early warnings alert the milk producer to the appropriate quick action needed for individual cows, for reproduction, udder health and nutrition. Proactive action will also improve animal welfare and food safety.

“It takes so much pressure off the farmer and delivers accurate results which will increase the financial yield from each cow by around €267 per cow per year,” claims Kieran FitzGerald, VMS Solutions Manager, GB and Ireland.

Fertiliser spreader app

Kuhn Farm Machinery is among a growing number of manufacturers utilising smartphone technology to aid users of their equipment.

Recently Kuhn has added a new fertiliser spreader app to assist in the configuration and set-up of their fertiliser spreader range.

The Kuhn SpreadSet app enables users to select from a pre-set range of commonly used fertilisers, and automatically calculates the correct spreader settings, according to the type of fertiliser being used, desired application rate, spreading width, and forward speed.

“Only by ensuring that their machines have been adjusted and set-up 100% accurately can farmers ensure that they are spreading fertiliser as efficiently and effectively as possible,” explains Phil Norman of Kuhn’s Technical Product Support Team.

“The new app has therefore been developed to make it quicker and easier for Kuhn customers to adjust their machine’s spreading parameters in accordance with their specific spreading requirements.

“By providing step-by-step instructions regarding vane angles and drop-point positions, the app makes it simple for users to achieve the optimum spreader set-up.”

The SpreadSet app is currently available to download for free on Android devices, and will soon be available to download from the Apple Store.

Speaking of apps, New Holland are rolling out a new one.

Called ’OnBoard 360’, it offers a virtual experience of the new CX combine and T7.315 in the field.

It has been made available for iOS and Android devices.

The app will transport users virtually on board the new CX8 combine or T7 Heavy Duty tractor, in the field.

They will be able to walk around the machines, view their main features, climb on board and drive them, even simulate operating the machine in the field.

New Holland boasts it is a truly immersive 360-degree experience.

BCS camera never lies

Teagasc’s Principal Research Officer, Frank Buckley, has recommended that dairy cows are kept in the correct body condition at calving.

Mr Buckley advised that it is important to have cows in a body condition score of 3.25 to 3.5 prior to calving.

Not succeeding could lead to reduced milk yield and fertility in over or under conditioned cows.

Body condition scoring needs to be done accurately and at specific times in the lactation cycle.

Knowing the body condition score of cows helps a farmer plan feeding to ensure cows have healthy body fat reserves, thus promoting milk production, reproductive efficiency and cow longevity.

DeLaval has launched the world’s first automated body condition score (BCS) system for cows, taking the guesswork out of the process.

The system is based on a 3D camera fixed on a gate.

Once a cow passes under the camera, the system selects its best still image of the cow in its video sequence.

The image is converted to an accurate body condition score.

The technology was awarded the Innov’Space 2015 award in France.

“Most farmers understand the concept and benefits of body condition scoring, but for various reasons they are not doing it today.

“With experts such as Teagasc now advising farmers of the importance of correct BCS at calving, farmers appreciate the benefit of a cost-effective solution for consistent, regular and accurate scoring,” said Kieran Fitzgerald, VMS Solutions Manager, Britain and Ireland.

“The technology is a world-first, and completely changes the way the farming community will look at body condition scoring.

“Achieving an accurate body condition score is now extremely simple. It gives consistent and daily feedback on the condition of a herd without any work on the part of the farmer. That’s valuable information that can have significant benefits to the health of the cow and to the running and profitability of the farm,” concluded Mr Fitzgerald.

Traditionally, body condition scoring is done by looking at and handling a cow, but this can be inaccurate, particularly if the shed is crowded.

Body condition scoring is more accurate than weighing.

Body weight varies a lot with feed and water intake, if the cow has manured or just been milked.

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