Farmer/owner: Dennis, Angela and Chris Marsh
Farm location: Wootton-under-Edge, Wickwar, Gloucestershire
Farm name: Pincots Farm
Herd: 130 cows
Milking system: Two Fullwood MÂ²erlin robots
Date of installation: March 2015
Chris Marsh farms with his parents, Dennis and Angela, near Wotton-under-Edge in Gloucestershire where they own and rent a total of 293 acres. They moved to the farm 13 years ago, bringing with them a herd of 60 cows which has subsequently grown to 130, calving all year round.
With the herd’s growth came the need to invest in new milking facilities. “We had previously been milking through a 14:14 herringbone parlour,” Chris explains. “Although there was fundamentally nothing wrong with it, it had milked a lot of cows since it was installed in the mid-1980s and each milking was taking up to three and a half hours.”
“We were open-minded about what type of system to replace the herringbone with, but knew it needed to reduce the amount of time spent in the parlour,” Chris says “All the farms we visited were well managed, but it was the robotic systems which gave us the most to think about. We instantly realised that a fully automated system would enable us to milk three times a day without any extra labour.”
In order to make robots work at Pincots Farm, the Marshes converted and extended an existing grain store which was being under-utilised. At one end of the shed sit two Fullwood M2erlin milking robots. A space for an additional machine has also been integrated into the shed’s new layout.
The robots started milking the Pincot herd in mid-March 2015, and by the end of April daily visits to the machines had risen from 2.2 to 3.1 visits, with the herd’s high yielders being milked up to five times a day.
“Training the cows to enter the robots was surprisingly easy,” Chris continues. “Within a couple of days, each cow was happy to go in and out of the machines at their own free will.”
Chris’ aim is to see yields increase from 8,800 litres per lactation to 11,000 litres. “We’ve already seen a jump in production from 27 litres per cow per day to 31 litres for the herd’s highest yielders, so we’re confident our goal is realistic.”
“None of us miss the daily milking routine, and despite not being in the parlour, we are actually spending more time with the cows”.