Farmer/owner: The Wood Family
Farm location: Twyford, Buckinghamshire
Farm name: Portway Farm
Herd: 230 Pedigree Holsteins
Milking system: Parallel Parlour Fullwood Index 90
Date of installation: October 2010
Portway Farm is a partnership between Mark, his father Anthony, mother Christine, Uncle Mike, Aunty Linda and brother Charles. Back in 2006 the family had a big decision to make, the parlour was 37 years old and the whole unit needed some upgrading but should they stay in milk? The decision in the end was relatively straightforward as with a good team and a contract with Waitrose in place they were keen to keep going.
Research got underway in October 2007 including visits to ten other farms to see other units in action and gain some advice. Mark looked at rotaries and herringbones but in the end decided on the Fullwood Index 90 – a rapid exit parlour because it would be a lot easier for the staff.
The family are now milking through a 24:24 parlour which has the option to be expanded to 40:40 in the future. They also built a cubicle shed with 216 sand bedded stalls and plenty of space for the cows. There are four rows of cubicles with 14 foot passages – two feeding passages and two cubicle passages. Cows are milked twice a day. Two men can milk 100 cows an hour adhering to a strict milking routine.
So what have been the main benefits of the new dairy unit? Mark says…
Animal welfare is considerably better
Lameness has dropped by two-thirds
Cell counts are dropping
The pedometers have been a massive help especially in reducing the calving intervals
It is now spring 2011, nearly 18 months since the new Fullwood parlour was installed, and the family are now milking 200 cows with 230 in the herd. With planning permission granted for another cubicle building to go up to house up to another 216 milking cows, this will keep the business progressing forward.
The benefits of the parlour are keeping cows happy and just as important, keeping staff happy. The key to the business is retaining quality staff. The Crystal software has helped Mark to manage the cows better, with pedometers linked to the software this has helped to reduce the calving interval. At the same time as the parlour was installed the family also put in some second hand out of parlour feeders, which are also linked to the Crystal software. This has enabled them to target the cows with extra concentrate when they need it and also avoid fat cows at the end of lactation.
Content courtesy of British Dairying.