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March 2015: Lissue Holstein Herd to host Lely open day on 18th March

Lely Center Eglish concludes its series of spring open days on Wednesday 18th March at the McAufield family’s Beechwood Farm near Lisburn, County Antrim.

Managed by Adrian McAufield, and son Conor, the farm is home to the highly acclaimed Lissue herd of pedigree Holsteins. The 100-cow herd is currently averaging 9,700 litres at 4% butterfat and 3.15% protein.

The McAufield duo invested in two Lely Astronaut A4 milking robots which were installed in June last year. “Previously, milking was taking up to five hours every day,” explained Conor. “We looked at the feasibility of a new conventional parlour, but when we included the costs involved in building a new shed and employing more labour, we decided that robotic milking was the most cost-effective solution.”

Conor added: ”The Lely Astronaut A4 was our number one choice, simply because Lely is the world leader in robotic milking technology, and offers an efficient and reliable back-up service. We also liked the A4’s iflow design which eliminates obstacles and allows the cows direct access in and out of the robot. Other plus points included the weigh bridge, and rumination and heat detection systems.”

Following advice from the design team at Lely Center Eglish, Adrian and Conor were able to adapt their existing sheds to accommodate the robots. “The project required minimal building work,” explained Adrian.  “The cows are housed continuously and divided into two batches, low yielders in one shed, and high yielders in the other.”

Since installing the robots the McAufield’s have reduced cow numbers, and are concentrating on a more select herd. “It’s an efficient way to milk cows, and helps the animals to reach their full potential. We have more time for attention-to-detail when it comes to routine chores such as foot trimming and calf rearing,” added Conor.

Managing the cows on an individual basis is paying dividends, with a welcome increase of up to 20% in milk yield. “The cows are happy and content and milking well. The highest yielding cows are currently producing in excess of 60 litres per day, while the heifers are peaking at over 40 litres.”

The cows are fed a TMR ration comprising of maize and grass silages and blend, which is formulated for maintenance plus 28 litres. Concentrates are fed in the robot to a maximum of 14 kilos per head per day, depending on yield.

Conor continued: ”We’ve also noticed a significant reduction in somatic cell count. Udder health is also improved, and with virtually no cases of mastitis, we have managed to reduce our veterinary costs and antibiotic usage.”

Although Conor completed a degree in computer science, he has a passion for farming and pedigree cattle, and since 2009 has been investing heavily in proven Holstein genetics. Leading cow families include Regenia, Ashlyn, Redrose, Fay, Hope, and the high genomic Socrates Candy.

The breeding policy focuses on components, longevity and good overall health traits. AI bulls currently used include Doorman, Windbrook, Shottle, and the home-bred Lissue Star – the UK’s number three 3 PLI 574 sire which sold privately to Genus ABS. He has a GTPI 2450 and an RZG 161.

The home-bred Lissue Mardi G Fay is the current number 4 PLI 621 heifer in the UK. She comes from the same family as the NI-bred Laurelhill Classic, an Oman son, currently ranked number one PLI bull in the UK.

High genomic heifers are flushed on-farm to accelerate the genetic pool, and several home-bred females have bull contracts with leading AI studs. Sexed semen is also used successfully throughout the herd, giving Adrian and Conor a surplus of heifer calves to sell.

Lely extends a warm welcome to all milk producers to attend the forthcoming open day from 10.30am to 3.00pm. Beechwood Farm is situated at  Lissue Road, Lisburn, County Antrim, BT28 2SU.

Further details from Lely Center Eglish tel: 028 3754 8228, or Jim Irwin on mobile: 07827 884639.

Conor McAufield

Conor McAufield, Lissue Herd, Lisburn, is hosting a Lely Open day on Wednesday 18th March.

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