When Mr Tom Martin took over his father’s farm at Ballyknock, Moira, six years ago, he had a dairy herd of 10 cows. Now, with careful planning and good management, he has progressively increased his cow number to 30 and is preparing for a 40-cow herd.
Two major factors in this steady expansion has been Mr Martin’s use of high yielding Friesians and forward planning of housing. He has 90 acres, 70 of which are in grass and the rest in barley or potatoes.
Shortly after he took charge of the farm, Mr Martin built an open silo and cubicles for 34 cows. Initially, these were more than he needed, of course, but were built with a view to future requirements.
Now that the growth planned then has been achieved, Mr Martin has taken his plans for expansion a step further.
This summer he has completed the erection of an extremely modern herringbone parlour. It has eight staggered mangers, fitted with automatic feeders which can give anything from ½lb to 3lb feed at a time. The feed – Whites dairy cubes – is delivered in bulk and stored above the parlour in four storage hoppers attached to the feeders.
“My reason for building the parlour was to help me increase the herd to 40. It will also allow me to save on labour costs because the number of manual tasks is reduced,” said Mr Martin.
Hand-in-hand with the planning of buildings has been stockmanship which has made maximum use of the cows. A high average yield – 1,161 gallons per cow last year – has been maintained without dropping in quality.
During the last 12 months, average butterfat was 3.59 and snf 8.79, giving a total solids level of 12.38. This was achieved on 2½lbs of meal only per gallon.
Mr Martin has been using Whites’ feed for four years. “My yield has risen steadily from 1,000 gallons per cow on the Whites cubes,” he said. “The cubes have a very even texture with minimal breakage.”
He will also be using Whites feed when he starts with pigs again shortly. He stopped keeping them in March to concentrate on the parlour, but will be buying 100 pigs, probably this month. They will be fed on Bakonal.