Appleton Farms, near Deal in Kent, is in the process of increasing its cow numbers from the current level of 480 up to 660.
The development has entailed the building of a new slatted shed for 270 milking stock. The business is owned by the Ledger family.
“The new cubicle house was designed and built with the needs of the cows put first and foremost,” Ken Ledger explained.
“It is 60m long and approximately 40m in width. We opted for the Surefoot™ slats from Moore Concrete in Northern Ireland at the very outset.
“It is a flooring system designed to ensure that the cows have a slip resistant surface to walk on at all times.
“Moore’s also manufactured and supplied the cubicle bases, the support beams and the cubicle end walls. The cubicle beds are 16’6” long. This system offers all the cows ample room.”
Moore Concrete’s Keri McGivern and Richard Whiteside were recent visitors to Appleton Farms.
“There is a growing demand for our Surefoot™ slat range throughout the UK,” said McGivern.
“Farmers recognise that they provide stock with a slip-free surface at all times. In turn, this has major production and welfare related benefits.
“The slats have been scientifically assessed and the benefits they offer fully quantified.”
The new house also features an advanced lighting system, which guarantees the cows the optimal ratio of daylight to darkness throughout the year. Slurry that has accumulated over the past winter will be spread on to the adjoining silage fields over the coming weeks.
The farmyard manure from the other sheds will be put out on to the farm’s cereal ground using a traditional muck spreader.
Ken Ledger is quick to confirm the scale of the investment undertaken at Appleton Farms.
“We see a long term future in dairy,” he said.
“Yes, farmgate prices are below our cost of production at the present time. But with the new shed now operational our potential to become more efficient has increased significantly.
“The current downturn in prices may well force existing milk producers to look at other farming options. This, in turn should provide opportunities for us.”