A Kerry farmer has become the first in the Republic of Ireland to install a new farm management system that may have the capacity to change the face of dairy farming.

Johnny O’Hanlon, who runs a dairy herd of 130 animals with his parents, installed the DeLaval Herd Navigator system, which is designed to provide producers with an improved overview of their herd while offering specific information on individual cows.

The herd management system will allow milk producers to identify significantly more cows in heat than would otherwise be seen with alternative heat detection aids or visual checks to identify mastitis before it affects the milk.

It automatically measures different components in the milk while the cow is being milked and is understood the system will increase the average financial yield by around €267 per cow per year.

“If milk prices drop, you have to do what you’re doing more profitably,” O’Hanlon said.

“By being able to identify potential problems before they actually manifest themselves, we can reduce spend on antibiotics, keep our milk output constant and of the highest quality. It allows us to gather information through milk samples, which we would never have been able to do before.”

Early warnings alert the milk producer to the appropriate quick action needed for individual cows, for reproduction, udder health and nutrition. Proactive action will also improve animal welfare and food safety.

Using sophisticated bio-modelling, analytical results are presented on the farmer’s computer in a clear form that makes it easy to identify animals that need special attention.

These include:

  • Cows in heat, pregnant cows and cows with reproduction disorders or abortions.
  • Cows that are developing mastitis, days before clinical signs can be seen.
  • Early detection of ketosis cases or imbalance in feed ration.