South Kilkenny farmer, Michael Downey
A South Kilkenny farmer is leading the way when it comes to robotic dairy farming.
Michael Downey, a native of Windgap and a fulltime farmer himself turned to robotic milking in 2014. He firmly believes that it is the way forward in farming and for five years after turning robotic on his farm he was contracted to a robotic milking company.
During this time he assisted first hand with the process of new start-up robotic farms in daily management, setting out their farm buildings to house the robotic systems, grazing platforms and other matters relating to the changeover.
With the experience of assisting other farmers through contract work and indeed having his own robotic farm, Michael felt strongly that there was a need in the market for an independent advisor whom the farmer could call upon.
Michael now operates his own Consulting business Downey Robotic Sales and offers advice to farmers who are considering the road to robotic milking on their farm.
Michael is passionate about what he does and feels strongly that every farm and those farming the land need to be analysed to see if they are suited to a robotic way of life.
Since the commencement of his consultancy business, Michael has assisted farmers across several counties, family units with generations farming, father and daughter farm businesses and also new entrants to farming considering milking for the first time alongside setting up robotic milking.
Michael has no hesitation in suggesting robotic milking for new entrants and indeed evidence has proven it to be a very successful venture.
Ensuring a smooth transition to robotic life is key to the herd and the farmer to ensure a lifetime of contentment. So much is the need to ensure a smooth transition that robotic milk companies have also requested Michael for his expertise to assist farmers both pre and post installation, getting the layout of buildings correct along with suitable field and farm roadway planning is key.
Many farmers Michael feel, don’t place enough emphasis on the preparations and decisions in the lead up to installation and this can result to frustration and negativity post installation.
Michael firmly believes with the right preparation that results can only be positive.
“Robotic milking has shown that it facilitates higher milk yields, happier cows and improved health amongst the herd. Informative daily reports on health, somatic cell count, protein, butterfat, lactose, fertility from the robotic set up enables the farmer to monitor much more closely the health and performance of each individual cow.
“Certainly with the very real concern amongst the farming community of a limited workforce and the fear that in future years farm labour will be extremely difficult to source, robotic milking also helps alleviate both the cost of labour in future years and the difficulty around the actual sourcing of farm workers.
“It is important to note from a cost perspective that grant support is available to farmers and should be researched in detail. Also being mindful of the actual costs necessary for turning a farm robotic and to not take on unnecessary costs during installation.”
For more information see www.downeyroboticsales.com