New cubicle shed reflects latest ideas in dairy housing design

Moore Concrete's Keri McGivern examining the new 'Surefoot' slats with Keith McNeill
Moore Concrete's Keri McGivern examining the new 'Surefoot' slats with Keith McNeill

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 slightly above the heads of the cows. This ensures less feed spoilage.”

When it came to the slatted floor to be specified for the house, Keith opted for the new Surefoot™ option from Moore Concrete.

“We had planned to go down this road from day one. The slats provide stock with a much better footing. As a consequence, cows will demonstrate stronger heats. Maintaining the highest possible levels of fertility within the herd is crucially important.

“I was also conscious of running a bull with heifers in the new shed. Again, providing them with a surer footing means fewer slips and falls.

“The bottom line is that an injury caused by a poor floor service can work out to be a very expensive loss.”

Moore Concrete’s Keri McGivern was a recent visitor to the McNeill farm. She confirmed that demand for the Surefoot slat range is on the increase.

“The system has been independently trialled with the results confirming the ability of the slats to offer a significantly enhanced slip resistant surface for livestock ,” she said.

“Surefoot™ slats provide 50% more grip, when compared to standard slat surfaces.

“The use of the new 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.”

The new McNeill shed also features Moore Concrete cubicle bases, end walls and footbaths.

For more information, telephone Moore Concrete on (028) 2565 2566.