Farmer/owner: Mark & Judith Bowes
Farm location: Cheshire
Farm name: Townfield Farm
Herd: 150 Holstein
Milking system: Fullwood 20/20 Herringbone
Date of installation: July 2009
Mark and Judith started in dairy farming in 2002 on a small council farm but then in 2007 took the opportunity to move to a larger farm with potential for a hugely increased herd. Having moved to the new farm in Winsford, Cheshire, the Bowes started to look at the options to replace the extremely old parlour that was there when they took over. They knew from the beginning that their goal was to grow the herd to 200. Robots were dismissed straight away as they didn’t have the room to accommodate them. A rotary wasn’t the right solution for Mark and Judith as they felt it took away what they consider to be very important cow contact.
So the decision was made to order a 20/20 Herringbone from Fullwood – a parlour with a unit available for each cow with no waiting time. It wasn’t a straight forward process as the dates show. Once plans were in place and costs gathered, in February 2007 the Bowes sought planning permission but it was November 2008 before this was granted. Work started immediately on the groundwork, then the metal-framed building with concrete walls and wood panelling, the concrete flooring and then finally the Fullwood parlour could be installed. Included with the basic herringbone were automatic feeders activated by the cow’s transponders, individual milk yield recording, automatic cluster removal and an auto-wash system.
The parlour was finally ready for use in June 2009 and Mark and Judith could immediately see the benefits with better working conditions, the ACRs making milking much easier and enabling one person to work alone and the capability to record on a daily basis improving the herd management.
Nearly 18 months on now since the first milking of 29th June 2009 and the Bowes have had no problems. Right from the start the cows settled in, there were no problems with mastitis or cell counts that some people fear with a change in parlour. Judith manages the record keeping, and although not usually a fan of computers, has found it easy to use and extremely useful she told us, “I just type in a cows name or number and have instant access to everything recorded relating to that cow since the Crystal system was installed”. In addition Mark says the auto wash was money well spent, both in terms of the reliability of the wash and the time saved.