Farmer/owner: James Watt
Farm location: Templepatrick, County Antrim, Northern Ireland
Farm name: Rickmoore
Herd: 200 pedigree Holstein cows
Milking system: Fullwood QS 24:48 swingover
Date of installation: December 2014
Since replacing his farm’s 40-year parlour, James Watt has seen significant improvements in the productivity of his herd, with the daily milking regime taking 50% less time to complete and his cows giving more milk from 40% less parlour-fed meal.
James farms at Templepatrick in County Antrim where he milks a herd of 200 pedigree Holstein cows. With a herringbone parlour that was originally installed in 1972 as a 6:12 facility – and subsequently doubled-up and extended to a 16:16 format – the farm’s milking facilities have been replaced by a new, more modern system.
“The old parlour, even in its extended format, was only really suitable for milking 100 or so cows,” James explains. “With the herd now numbering twice that figure, we needed to upgrade the parlour to limit the amount of time it took to complete each milking.”
“We therefore decided to invest in new facilities which would reduce each milking to a maximum of two hours, including washing down,” James adds.
A Fullwood QS 24:48 swingover parlour was installed by SM McKee of Moneyreagh with the first milking taking place just prior to Christmas 2014. On average, one person can now milk 160 cows per hour, with morning and afternoon milkings taking significantly less than James’ two-hour target.
James and his father, Jamesie, who was involved in all aspects of running the farm until his sudden death in February 2014, originally considered installing a 32:32 parlour, but after visiting several installations in Holland, settled on the 24:48 option. “There wasn’t much in it in terms of price, but it made sense to go for the longer parlour because it’s easier for one person to milk in a swingover parlour than in a doubled-up facility,” James adds.
Within a few weeks of the new parlour being used for the first time milk yields started to increase. “The auto-id system and in-parlour feeders have enabled us to feed each cow more accurately according to her lactation status,” James explains. “As a result, the herd’s average yield jumped from 9,000 litres per cow to more than 9,500 litres.
“The new parlour has transformed the way we manage the cows with each animal benefitting in terms of productivity, health and fertility. My father didn’t see the new parlour before he died, but I hope he’d be more than happy with what we’ve achieved.”