TECHNOLOGY is constantly being developed no matter where you look, but not every new agri gizmo will be an advantage to every dairy farm business.
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However, that should not make dairy farmers afraid of embracing technology if they can see a clear need for it and if the business model they have adopted can justify the cost.

The Scottish Farmer: Richard Lilburn from Brookvale Farm.

While some farmers run with a ‘make do’ attitude and stick with decades old equipment, others can see outside the box to relate to modern ideas and a new way of thinking.

One such farm in Northern Ireland that has adopted change and has embraced new technology over the years is Brookvale Farm, just outside Dromore, in Co Down.

The Scottish Farmer: The Lilburns had installed four Fullwood Merlin robots in 2019 to bring about a better work/life balance

Run by Richard Lilburn, who farms with his father, Thomas, mother Olive and wife, Pamela, the farm comprises of 200 acres with an additional 250 acres rented for their herd of 220 pedigree Holstein dairy cows.

Maintaining a good work life balance is very important to the Lilburns, who use a range of technologies to ensure they have adequate time to spend with their families.

Grass is, without doubt, the cheapest form of feed on a dairy farm but it can work out an expensive commodity if poorly utilised. Maximising milk yields from grass is a key factor in profitable milk production on Brookvale Farm and more so now in a period of difficult milk prices.

The Scottish Farmer: At Brookvale a Grass Tech Pro-cut GT140 machine cuts the grass daily through the summer for the zero-grazed herd

With that in mind, Richard operates a zero grazing system that can achieve dry matter yields as high as 11 tonnes of dry matter per ha (DM/ha), if worked efficiently.

Most traditional grazed grass systems achieve utilised yields of around eight tonnes DM/ha, however at a much lower cost of production compared to zero grazing, given the machinery costs associated with the system.

This way of using grass can be a useful method of grassland management in the specific situation of fragmented farms, of which there are many in Northern Ireland. It provides flexibility in allowing the grass platform to be increased beyond walkable acres and increasing stocking density.

The giant Holstein cow with spots arranged as a map of the world is designed to celebrate the farmer-owned cooperative’s diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts.

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