Farmer/owner: Trevor & Richard Bray
Farm location: Holsworthy, Devon
Farm name: Shernick Farm
Herd: 330 British Holsteins
Milking system: 50 point abreast rotary Fullwood Revolution
Date of installation: October 2009
The Brays have farmed at Shernick Farm for six years, having previously been in dairy production at Hackthorne Farm, four miles away.
“We relocated the herd because we had outgrown the buildings and land at Hackthorne,” Trevor Bray explains. “We were running 230 cows on 150 rented and 150 owned acres, but had run out of room to grow the herd and develop more cow housing. The parlour was also beyond its best, so when the 270 acres at Shernick was offered to us we took the opportunity to relocate.”
The move also presented the opportunity to purchase 120 cows from Shernick Farm’s previous occupant, taking cow numbers 330 cows
Key to enabling the Brays to build their herd has been the installation of a new parlour: Shernick was originally equipped with a 20:20 herringbone parlour, but milking 330 cows was taking in excess of 10 hours per day due to slow cow throughput.
The Brays secured an ‘Objective 1 Dairy Collect’ grant to allow them to purchase a 15,000 litre Fullwood DX tank which was installed in 2007. Two years later, the Brays commissioned a new 50-point rotary parlour, which was supplied and installed by Fullwood South-West.
The Brays looked at several different parlour options and layouts before settling on the rotary, which they felt best suited their current and future requirements. “We initially thought a large-scale herringbone would have been the best option,” Richard explains. “A 30:60 swing-over system would have suited a two-man milking regime, but we felt it would take too long for the cows to enter and exit each side.”
The Brays therefore opted for a rotary system which would give high cow throughput. “Dairy farmers in the South-West are blessed with a wide choice of milking parlours,” Trevor claims. “We chose the Fullwood parlour not just because it worked out to be the most cost-effective to purchase and install, but because Fullwood South-West offer a really good back-up service.”
“The new parlour allows us to milk 300 cows in an hour and twenty minutes with three people milking,” Richard adds. This involves one person cleaning the teats with a pre-medicated wipe and stripping the fore-milk, a second attaching the units, and a third – usually Trevor – removing the clusters and post-dipping the teats. The third person is also responsible for spraying the clusters with a solution of peracetic acid to prevent cross-contamination of mastitis between cows.
“The new system requires an extra man to be in the parlour,” Trevor explains, “but we are able to get through each milking in record time. This reduces stress on the labour force and cows, as well as making milking a much more enjoyable experience.”
The new set-up has also seen an improvement in production with yields increasing by one litre per cow per day within the first five days of commissioning the new parlour. “The cows are spending less time standing in the collecting yard and this has lead to improved milk yields,” Richard explains.
The Brays have also seen a reduction in electricity costs. “The new parlour is not only more energy efficient than the previous system, it is also a lot quicker,” Trevor describes. “That means we can get the whole of the morning milking done using cheaper low-rate electricity. On average we are saving between £5 and £6 a day on power alone which translates to an annual saving of around £2000.”
Trevor and Richard remain extremely confident about their future in dairy production, with Richard keen to reach his target of 500 cows as soon as possible. “With more than seven billion people to feed globally, and more agricultural land being used for urban development, the future for farming looks rosy,” Trevor concludes.