Electric running costs only £5 per day
In the event Martin presented a talk focusing on the importance of feeding on cow stress and performance. This was then followed by videos of David and Andrew’s farms.
Martin Kavanagh covered many areas of feeding, including the farm system, feeding space and frequency, time budgets, rumination, acidosis and automation. There were many take home messages but feeding the cow in a system that ensures the cow is not stressed through lack of feed or drinking space, rushed eating or competing with more dominant cows. The feed should be mixed consistently and pushed up often enough to avoid sorting. Applying this approach can help avoid acidosis and improve animal performance in terms of milk quality and yield. Automation is not the answer for fixing fundamental problems on farm systems, however it can be a useful tool when used correctly where farmers do not have enough time, for example to push up feed.
David Miller runs a poultry unit and finishes c. 600 AA beef cattle per year. Time was becoming evermore stretched on the farm and some routine jobs were not getting done often enough, e.g. cleaning water troughs. With beef margins being tight David wanted to become more efficient and therefore decided to put in the Lely Vector automatic feeding system.
The benefits of the system are that it takes much less time to feed the cattle, there can be many different rations fed depending on the size, sex and number of cattle per pen. The feed is more evenly mixed, its fresher, its delivered more often and its pushed up all the time. Previously the daily live weight gain would range from 0.5 kg per day to 1.6 kg per day with more dominate and stronger cattle bullying the weaker cattle from the feed fence and therefore reducing intakes.
Now they are more even, with growth rates ranging from 1.1 kg to 1.6 kg, this has resulted in cattle finishing earlier and feed costs are lower therefore leaving the beef enterprise more profitable. Cattle are more relaxed and healthier plus it’s given David more time and flexibility resulting in more relaxed cattle and farmer.
Andrew Griffiths runs a 400 cow milking herd in Nantwich, Cheshire. He has been using Lely milking robots for seven years and the Lely Vector automatic feeding system for 5 years. The system consists of a ‘kitchen’, which houses a feed grabber and two MFR tubs that mix and distribute the feed to the 400 cows and an additional 320 stock throughout the yard. Andrew comments that he can feed more rations and that the feed is mixed more consistently and is fresher with the milking cows getting fed up to five times a day.
One of biggest differences Andrew has noticed is the calving index has come down from 400 days to 385 days which has a positive effect on herd profitability. Initially when considering the system Andrew compared the capital cost of a new tractor and feeder wagon plus the running costs of labour and diesel to the Lely Vector system, he says the Vector system has paid for itself after the five years. The Lely Vector system can deliver up to 22 tonne per day and only uses approximately 25 to 45 kWh of electric per day, so for an average day the cost of electric to run the system is only c. £5 per day.
To listen back to the presentation, keep an eye on the Lely Center Eglish website or social media. For a free no obligation site suitability visit and cost benefit analysis of the Lely Vector system call Lely Center Eglish on 02837548228.