3rd September 2020 - Page 16

MAY 09 2019
Lely A5 robots maximising
efficiency on Sion Mills farm
ITH improved
energy efficiency,
enhanced cow
comfort, and a
faster hybrid arm,
Lely’s Astronaut A5 milking
robot has surpassed all
expectations and achieved
record sales since it was
unveiled last year.
“I am delighted to confirm
that we have sold 100
Astronaut A5 robots in
Northern Ireland in less than
12 months,” explained Lely
Center Eglish director Jim
Irwin. “The A5 made its UK
and Ireland debut at the 150th
Balmoral Show, and since then
sales have soared.
“This is an exciting milestone
in the 10-year history of Lely
Center Eglish. Lely’s worldwide success story spans
more than 25 years, and the
Astronaut A5 features cuttingedge technology designed to
deliver improved performance
and efficiency.”
County Tyrone milk producer
Desmond Millar, and sons Rudi
and Alan, from Sion Mills, were
among the first farmers in the
Province to place an order for
the Astronaut A5 model.
They manage a 165-cow
commercial dairy herd,
alongside an extensive poultry
“We produce over 180,000
breeding birds annually,”
explained Alan. “The success
of the poultry enterprise
relies on precision, and the
use of modern ‘fine tuned’
LEFT: Sion Mills dairy herd
owner Alan Millar, right, is
pictured with Lely Center Eglish
sales representative Dean
PICTURE: Julie Hazelton
technology. We decided to
opt for robots to maximise
efficiency within the dairy
Three Lely Astronaut A5
robots were installed 18 weeks
ago. Alan added: “Our parlour
was a basic 10 point swing
over with no ACRs or auto ID.
Milking was taking up to seven
hours every day, and feeding
to yield was pointless in the
old system as we had no idea
how individual cows were
The farm’s existing
infrastructure was easily
adapted to accommodate the
robots. “Minimal building work
was required, and we were
impressed with Lely’s design,
reputation and the unrivalled
back-up service provided.
“Lely’s support network is
invaluable. It’s almost like a
community between farmers
where you can benchmark
your herd, and access help and
advice. Lely has also designed
its own farmer-friendly T4C
software to complement the
system, and the initial start-up
includes ‘hands on’ training
and assistance from Lely staff
and a nutritionist.
“We are still on a learning
curve,” remarked Alan, who
has welcomed a 30 per cent
increase in milk production.
“The cows adapted to the
robots in a matter of days, and
the yields are still rising.”
The herd is fed a TMR ration
comprising of wholecrop
lupins and tricale, mixed with
first cut silage and a blend. An
18 per cent nut is fed through
the robots, to a maximum
of 12kgs per head per day,
depending on yield.
The herd is currently
averaging 2.9 visits to the
robots per day. Cows are
producing up to 53.3 litres per
day, while heifers are peaking
at 37.5 litres.
“We aren’t pushing the
cows too hard at this stage,
but it’s obvious the potential
was there. The old system
wasn’t allowing us to manage
the cows efficiently. I’ve also
noticed that the cows have
better body condition, they are
more content, and the udders
are milked out more evenly.
“The daily reports generated
by the computer help us to
manage the cows individually.
Problems are flagged up and
early detection leads to faster
intervention, resulting in
reduced veterinary costs,”
concluded Alan.
The Millar family aim to
increase herd size to around
190 cows. More emphasis has
been placed on herd health,
fertility and breeding, with
the introduction of sexed
semen to enhance genetics
and breed home-bred heifer
Concluding Alan said: “We
are very pleased with our
investment. Labour is limited,
and installing the robots
has given us more time to
concentrate on other tasks
such a field work.
“Robots are an efficient way
to milk cows, and experience
and attention-to-detail will
allow us to drive production
and profitability.”
Lely’s Live Milking
Demonstration is returning
to Balmoral Show for the
sixth year in succession.
The Lely stand is one of the
main attractions for tens of
thousands of visitors at the
four-day show. This year’s ‘Live
Milking’ will feature 40 cows
from the McCullough family’s
Racavan Holstein Herd near
Visitors will also have an
opportunity to taste Drayne’s
ice-cream, made locally on the
outskirts of Lisburn on a farm
which is home to three Lely
Astronaut A4 milking robots.
REPORTS: The daily reports generated
by Lely’s T4C computer software allow
Alan Millar to manage the dairy cows
EFFICIENCY: Lely’s Astronaut A5 robot
boasts improved energy efficiency,
enhanced cow comfort, and a faster hybrid
For more information about Lely’s
range of labour saving robotic
technology contact Lely Center Eglish
on 028 3754 8228, or Jim Irwin on
mobile 07827 884639.
Make your voice heard – FFA
FARMERS For Action say farmers
across Northern Ireland need
to make use of their visit to
Balmoral Show.
Sean McAuley, FFA Steering
Committee, said: “With farmgate
prices at rock bottom across the
majority of the staples it is way
past time to make yourself heard
with beef processors, dairy
processors, supermarkets and
any other corporate and co-op
purchasers of NI farm produce at
the show.”
He explained: “When you
consider the cost of production
alone, eg, for beef is now £6.15
per kilo, lamb £6.15 per kilo
and milk is 41p/l, it will take an
increase of at least 50 per cent to
bring most of Northern Ireland
farmgate prices into the real
world and then add on profit all
inflation linked.
“Farmers and their families
have been slaves to the food
corporates and co-ops for long
enough across the majority of the
staples. It’s time to let them have
it, face to face, and make it clear
that the day of driving farmers
to becoming more intensive and
more efficient in order to be
better off is really a rainbow that
delivers for the corporates only!
“Therefore, is it time for
farmers to consider producing
less in order to be financially
better off?”
To conclude, FFA hopes farmers
and their families enjoy their
day at the show, however, they
need to support FFA and other
farm organisations by making
themselves heard, loud and
clear, on abysmal farmgate
Mr McAuley concluded:
“Remember, the Brexit
smokescreen is not an excuse –
whether we eventually leave or
remain in the EU we will still be
facing the food corporates. In
addition FFA repeat – farmers
should not sign any supply
contracts or agreements that are
below the true cost of production
plus a margin inflation linked
and especially without good
legal advice.”


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