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HomeDairy‘My family had no big interest in sheep or sucklers’ – 134-cow...
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane hails from a sixth-generation drystock and specialised pedigree suckler enterprise in Co. Mayo. She currently holds the positions of editor and general manager at That's Farming, having joined the firm during its start-up phase in 2015.
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‘My family had no big interest in sheep or sucklers’ – 134-cow robotic dairy farmer

Tom McWalters, Milltown, Co Galway cites a better lifestyle and improved flexibility as two primary reasons for jumping on the dairying bandwagon.

He converted from sheep and suckler farming in spring 2020, installing a Lely A5 robot to milk an initial 70 heifers.

Earlier this year, he invested in a second robot to milk his now 134-cow spring calving herd.

“My family has an interest in dairy. They [my family] had no big interest in sheep or sucklers. We were either lambing or calving all year round. There was a big workload. Dairying is more organised.”

By embracing robotics, he can access comprehensive information about his herd with the touch of a button.

Lely Center Mullingar 

He acknowledged the efforts of Lely Center Mullingar’s design and support team, who assisted with his transition to dairying.

His advice to those considering robotics is this: “Go round and look at plenty of farms.”

“Talk to everyone and find out how they got on. I went up to Tullamore looking at a farm with robots up there and to other farms locally.”

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“Also, I talked to farmers, and they told me how they got on, the good and the bad.”

“I was happy with what I saw, and Lely Center Mullingar came with us and designed sheds. They had their ideas, we had ours, and they put them together.”

“Also, they did all the drawings and showed them to us. They went ahead with it when we were all happy. The project coordinator was out on the farm regularly. He kept an eye on us at every stage.”

“Any time we had a problem, we rang him, and he gave us advice. Anything they came upon, they had seen it before,” Tom concluded.

Father and son team future-proofing their 2-robot farm

Conor Molony and his son, Niall, currently milk over 170 cows on two Lely A5 robots just outside Thurles in Co. Tipperary.

According to Lely Center Mullingar, the duo are running some of the highest producing robots in Ireland.

The family dairy farmers made the change to robotic milking to reduce the labour requirements, to achieve a better work-life balance with more flexibility, and future-proof their business.

The family recently hosted a virtual open day in conjunction with Lely Center Mullingar to provide an insight into their journey over the past three years.

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