A general dissatisfaction surrounding current means of safely restraining cows or heifers led Dr Niall O’Leary to design the Tail Jack.
"I grew up on a dairy farm in Co Kerry. We were trying to figure out a way to get the same effect of lifting a cow’s tail, which is very effective in stopping a cow kicking, but it requires a second person.
"If there isn't a second person in the parlour, this isn't possible, and even when there is, it slows down the milking routine.
"Myself and my father did a good bit of back and forth coming up with some designs, which resulted in us having something to test out last spring during calving.
"We had 100 heifers calved down there in spring, and we hadn’t one of them that kicked with the Tail Jack in place.
"That gave us a lot of confidence in thinking that we had created something innovative and useful," explained Niall.
Over the past few months, they have been collaborating with an external adviser and Munster Technological University, where Niall works as a researcher and lecturer, on the design of the Tail Jack.
The final product has now been created, with the Tail Jack being shown in the Innovation Arena at this year’s National Ploughing Championships next week.
How it works
On how the Tail Jack works, Niall explained: "The Tail Jack is firmly secured to the cow’s body by a set of adjustable hip clamps, with some minor tension applied to hold it securely in place.
"The cow’s tail is then placed in the tail holder and raised to the required height by pushing the tensioning bar up, which has several locking positions. It is as good as, if not better, than someone lifting the cow's tail in the parlour."
The cow is then able to be milked or treated as required with the Tail Jack in place. Removal is relatively straightforward, with the tension removed to release the tail from the raised position and again to release the unit from the cow’s hips.
For applying in the parlour, Niall has designed the unit to be used alongside a specially designed handle that allows the operator to place the Tail Jack on the cow from the parlour pit floor.
While primarily targeted for restraining dairy heifers in the milking parlour, the Tail Jack can also be used for treating painful udder issues such as mastitis.
In a beef setting, the Tail Jack can be used for restraining cows post-calving to allow a farmer to aid a calf in suckling.
The Tail Jack will be available to view in the Innovation Arena at this year’s Ploughing.
As a special introductory offer, the unit will retail at the reduced price of €250 plus VAT and delivery (€317 including VAT and delivery in the ROI) for orders placed before 30 September.
"There is definitely a need for it to get effective restraint of cows. We’ve had some very strong interest in it from farmers and have had a couple of orders for them already," said Niall.
You can view a video of the Tail Jack in action below.