Thomas & Samuel Steele

Farmer/owner: Thomas & Samuel Steele
Farm location: County Down, Northern Ireland
Farm name: Rowreagh Farm
Herd: 400 Holstein Friesians
Milking system: 60 point Fullwood rotary abreast
Date of installation: December 2009
Background
The Steele family from Kircubbin on the Ards Peninsula have had a hectic few years…none busier than 2012, the year Thomas Steele was crowned UK Dairy Farmer of the Year. But a lot of hard work and many busy years have helped him get to this point.
Decision
Back in 2006 the Steeles were milking through a 24:24 herringbone parlour. That was fine then but as cow numbers increased so did the milking times up to as much as nine hours per day. This was no good for the cows or the milkers and changes needed to be made.
A huge amount of research was undertaken before deciding on the way forward involving the whole family…Thomas, his mum and dad Rosemary and William and brother Samuel. They visited farms in Eire, UK, Germany and South Africa before finally deciding on the Fullwood rotary abreast parlour.
Key to the decision was the robust stalling offered by the Fullwood system coupled with the fact that it will allow for further expansion of the herd up to 600+ cows, should they wish to do so.
Current Situation
The parlour was commissioned in December 2009 and nearly three years on the recent accolade of Dairy Farmer of the Year is just the icing on the cake for a big success story.
A few farm facts…

  • Milking now takes place 3 times a day but takes less than 6 hours in total
  • Average annual yield for the herd is 10,555 litres / cow
  • Highest yielding cow producing 65 litres / day
  • Overall profits before drawings of 6p / litre
  • The farm is one of 12 in Northern Ireland which is part of the DARDs (Department of Agriculture & Rural Development) Focus Farm Initiative – farms selected to share best practice and advice with other producers.

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