John Macnamara and his family farm in Gormanstown, Hospital, Co. Limerick. The farming business was established a number of generations ago and has been built up with the purchase of two local farms over the years. John has been steadily increasing cow numbers on the farm since he took over and he found that with the jump in cow numbers it was taking too long to milk. A new 20 unit Dairymaster Swiftflo Swingover parlor was installed at the end of April which has freed up time for him to concentrate on other jobs on the farm and spend some more time with his wife Olivia and children Caoimhe 4, Padraic 3 and Ailbhe 1.
A new building was done for the new parlor which was supplied by Keltec Engineering in Kilmallock and done by the family themselves. They are now milking 120 Holstein Friesian cows in 45 minutes and that's all the cows in and out in that time. In his old parlor it used to take over 1 hour and 30 minutes at each milking and that was with 20 less cows. On this parlor he decided the install an AutoWasher which he advises is great as all you need to do is push a button and you are then free to get on with the rest of the cleaning i.e. wash the building including the parlor, race and collecting yard which takes approx 30 mins. With the AutoWasher he is getting exceptionally good results and it is much safer especially where you have children present as there is no measuring of chemicals and when the chemicals run out a light comes on to show that they need to be refilled.
The Macnamara's cows are milked twice a day at 7am and at 4.30pm, normally there is just one person required for the milking and then at weekends John's brothers Peter and Patrick help him out on the farm. The reason that he decided to go with Dairymaster is from his experience with his previous parlor where he found the service to be "top notch". He also comments that he did go to see a number of different parlors before making his final decision and on top of service being a big issue he also felt that Dairymaster were moving ahead of the other manufacturers' research and development wise. Dairymaster being an Irish company also influenced his decision. After he had done his research there was no question of the parlor being anything but a Dairymaster parlor.
On his new parlor John decided to go with Automatic Cluster Removers and he finds that with the cluster removers there is no under or over milking. He says that "they are very efficient and labour saving - by the time the second 20 is in the clusters are ready in an ideal position for the next row. Swiftflo Bailing which he advised in his view is the most important part of the parlor. "Swiftflo Bailing has totally changed my milking experience, from something that I was not going to install at the start, to now experience quick organised entry of cows into the parlor and rapid exit of each row. I would highly recommend it." FeedRite Automatic In Parlor feeders were installed with these he can feed a small amount down to .01Kg in order to get the cows to enter the parlor quickly and then on attachment of the cluster the remaining feed is dispensed. This is the first time that automatic feeders have been installed and he finds that they are very clean, he says "there is very little dust with the feeders as the pipes dispensing the feed are so low". The herd is bulk fed and he has the option of feeding two different feeds which he finds a great advantage as it allows him to feed citrus or compound ration depending on his requirements.
He decided to go with a diversion line which he is "constantly using, the diversion line was put where I wanted it and the great thing about this is that it doesn't upset a row of milking as all I have to do is press a button and the milk is diverted into the secondary line." John uses the diversion line to feed calves. Two way Drafting was installed so that he can easily separate cows when needed, this saves a lot of stress on the cows and on himself and also saves having to have a second person. Dairymaster CleanSweep Automatic Scrapers installed on the farm since 1991 and he finds them excellent and has never had any issues with them.
The average yield of the cows is 1400/1500 gallons with an annual output of 165,000 gallons. John is happy with the yields at this level and would see this increasing through additional cows. In time he may increase cow numbers further however this will depend on the availability of land base. The diet of the cows is made up of grass, grass silage and is then supplemented with concentrates in the spring time and at other times depending on the quota, weather and the price of milk. Kerry Agri Business is supplied with the milk and it is collected every 2nd day. Block calving is in effect from the 1st February to the 1st May with the majority of the herd calving during February and March. All the bull calves are sold and all the females are reared. Presently they are rearing 60 heifer calves.
The Macnamara family first heard of Dairymaster back in the mid to late 80's, both from their local milking machine dealer and also from neighbours and friends. The features that interested John most when installing this parlor were the Automatic Cluster Removers, Swing Over Arms and the Diversion Line as in his view for this size of a parlor these features are vital if you want to keep your labour down. However since installing the parlor he comments that he now realises after milking in it that the Swiftflo Bailing is by far the most important feature in his view.
When asked if John would recommend Dairymaster to friends and family he replied that he would have no hesitation in recommending Dairymaster to anyone as he was very happy with the way things were handled and dealt with and the level of service through from the salesman to the service department and software department is fantastic.
The main objectives for the farm is to product milk from grass as efficiently as possible, last year the Macnamara's were able to produce a litre of milk for 17c/litre however with the way the economy has gone this year this cost is now up to around 20c/litre or 21c/litre. John is a benchmarking farmer and he has groups from Pallaskenry agricultural college and Kilmallock Teagasc centre visiting the farm as part of their course. Every 2 months he has 10 students visit for over 3 hours to go through the day to day working on a dairy farm.
In 2005 John and his family won the FBD Young Farmer of the Future Award. The aim of this competition was to recognise excellence in agriculture and promote farming as a career with a bright future. A judging panel chaired by former Taoiseach Albert Reynolds interviewed six overall finalists according to specific criteria. This included innovation in farm business management, efficiency in farming, farm safety, environmental protection awareness, agricultural knowledge and community involvement. This gave John great encouragement and a good incentive to keep up what he was doing. John and Olivia are also involved with Ballyhoura Failte which is a local tourism office which arranges tours for foreign groups that are interested in visiting a working dairy farm. The Macnamara's are also involved with 4 secondary schools that bring Ag Science classes to visit the farm to further their education. The Macnamara's hard work, enthusiasm and attention to detail have paid off and this year they also won the FBD National Farmyard competition. This attention to detail and pride in their place of work has been instilled in the Macnamara family from John's father Paddy who himself won a National Farmgate Competition in 1969.
John advised that when dealing with Dairymaster on the parlor that "nothing was impossible", Dairymaster worked with him in order to provide the best solution for his requirements and anything he wanted positioned in a certain place was no problem. He says "communication was excellent - right from the sales guy, to the guys installing to the service team. Everything was brought to my attention and explained before any work commenced".