Building a new dairy unit on a green field site has provided Newtownstewart milk producer Trevor Wilson with the opportunity to design a system that meets every requirement for his business in the most efficient way possible.
He explained: “I am a new entrant into milk, so I was in a position to take an entirely fresh perspective on how I wanted to design the new unit. I also have a strong engineering background.
“I made two fundamental decisions at the outset. The first was to go down the robotic milking route. The second was to invest in purebred Montbelliarde breeding stock.”
The new unit comprises a single-roofed building, which is 42m in length and 36m in breadth. Internally, there is cubicle accommodation for 80 cows and young stock, calving pens and a calf rearing area.
“Obviously, the robot takes centre stage within the building,” Trevor added.
“Included in the specification are two out-of-parlour feeders. One is for the milking group while the second provides pre-calver minerals to the dry cows.
“The new unit came on stream during the autumn of 2016. For the most part, the milking group was imported from France as in-calf heifers.
“Some of the group members had actually calved prior to their arrival with me,” said Trevor.
“Almost all of the animals have now completed their first lactation. They averaged 8,500L at 4.3% butterfat and 3.5% protein.
“Some have now calved for the second time and to say that their performance is encouraging would be an understatement.”
One of the fundamental design decisions taken by Trevor was to opt for a below ground slurry tank, with a slatted floor cover. When it came to opting for the slats, he had no hesitation in selecting the Surefoot™ brand of slats from Moore Concrete.
“It was the obvious choice to make,” Trevor explained.
“I did not want to have the cattle injured as a result of slips or falls. And I am happy to confirm that we have not had one issue of this kind to deal with since the animals arrived over 15 months ago.
“Providing cows with a surer footing means that they are more comfortable in their environment. This factor, alone, helps promote dry matter intake and all aspects of fertility-related performance.”
Research has shown that the nature of the floor surface will affect the degree of sure-footedness that an animal feels when either standing or walking on slats. This challenge has always been recognised by Moore Concrete: hence the developments of the company’s Surefoot™ slat design.
“The slats are proving exceptionally popular with dairy and other livestock farmers throughout the UK,” Moore’s Jeff Haslett confirmed.
Jeff was a recent visitor to the Wilson farm. The Surefoot™ system has been independently trialled with the results confirming the wherewithal of the slats to offer a significantly enhanced slip resistant surface for livestock. This work was carried out by veterinarian Owen Atkinson, the man who heads up the Cheshire-based Dairy Veterinary Consultancy.
According to Jeff, Surefoot™ slats provide 50% more grip, when compared to standard slat surfaces.
He added: “The use of the new slat range will lead to a significant reduction in slip related injuries. In addition the Surefoot™ surface will provide cows with more confidence to exhibit their natural behaviours.
“As a result, feed intakes will increase and bulling behaviour will become more noticeable. In robotic scenarios the use of Surefoot™ slats will help encourage additional visits to the milking unit. That means more milk and higher profit margins per cow.
“Research has estimated the combined benefits of reduced casualties from slips, reduced lameness and reduced calving interval, shown in cattle using Surefoot™ slats, provides an overall economic benefit of £60 per cow annually.”
For further information, telephone Moore Concrete on (028) 2565 2566 Ext1 or view their website at www.moore-concrete.com.