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HomeDairyVIDEO: Converting to dairy with 45 heifers and 1 robot
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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VIDEO: Converting to dairy with 45 heifers and 1 robot

James Hegarty, who farms just outside Mullingar, Co. Westmeath, converted from sucklers to dairying in spring 2020.

His journey into dairying began with one Lely robot and forty-five heifers on a 50-acre block.

The new entrant enlisted the help of Lely Center Mullingar. Farmyard design and paddock layout were completed by the company’s in-house team of specialists.

Costs of switching to dairying

He had initially decided to install a parlour, but the cost of the building work required made him examine a robotic system which he ultimately installed.

The Westmeath native said he was “shocked” with the true costs involved in setting up a dairy farm.

“I thought I would have a shed up for €30,000 and sure, it was coming into €70,000-€80,000. The parlour itself was coming in at €70,000.”

“We started in October 2019 and had it finished by December 1st. The robot arrived just before Christmas, but it was too close for installing.”

“We built the dairy and put the robot room. Also, we put it into an existing shed beside the cubicles. We had the cubicles here already, so it just sat nicely into the shed.”

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“We did the roads the previous year, and we were ready to roll then. Everything outside is finished, but we have about five-acres to reseed. Everything else was reseeded before we started.”

Hegarty hopes to milk in the region of 62 cows next year under an ABC grazing system.

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