Why not foot bath your cows every time they drink?

Moore Concrete's Keri McGivern and Stranocum dairy farmer Keith McNeill discussing the benefits of the new foot bathing arrangements on the farm
Moore Concrete's Keri McGivern and Stranocum dairy farmer Keith McNeill discussing the benefits of the new foot bathing arrangements on the farm

Ongoing investment in both breeding stock and farm buildings has been a cornerstone of the approach taken to business development by Keith and Andrew McNeill.

The brothers milk 500 Holstein Friesian cows near Stranocum in North Co Antrim. The herd is split into spring and autumn groups across two sites. Keith manages the spring calving group, which starts calving in January.

“Our focus is to provide the cows and all the young stock with the conditions they require to maximise growth and performance,” he explained.

“This covers both feeding and the housing available on the farm. Recent years have also been marked by a growth in cow numbers. And to make this work, we completed the building of a new cubicle house for both cows and heifers last autumn.”

The new shed, which takes in a floor area of 110’ by 115’, contains 150 cubicles.

“We spent a lot of time designing the house in order to ensure that it was totally fit for purpose,” said Keith.

“This included all aspects of cubicle design, the layout of the feeding passages, the specific placement of the columns and the slatted floor.

“For example, the surfaces of the feeding passages have been specifically raised to be one foot above the feet of the cows. This ensures less feed spoilage.”

Another priority for Keith was the regular foot bathing of the cows.

“We take a ruthless approach to the prevention of digital dermatitis and other foot problems on the farm,” he said.

“Previously, we had worked with Moore Concrete to design a precast footbath in our dry cow house. This entailed replacing a cubicle space with a footbath, which the cows stood in while drinking. And it worked tremendously well.

“So we decided to go ahead with the same principle when it came to designing the new shed. Again, the cows must stand in the footbath while drinking. The bath itself can be easily emptied, simply by pulling out the bung. The effluent falls into the slurry tank below. Filling the bath is very simple: we simply pull out the bung from the precast drinker above. As a result, the foot bath is filled in a very short space of time.

He concluded: “All of this saves valuable time on the farm. But it also gives us the added assurance that the cows are being foot bathed more regularly and more efficiently than would be the case if they were running through a standard bath on a daily basis.”

Moore Concrete will have a major presence at this year’s Winter Fair. For more information, contact Moore Concrete on (028) 2565 2566.