Revamped cow accommodation
Although the Harpurs are still using the very mower they bought 17 years ago the trailer they used nowadays is a bit different to the original hay rack style machine. The farmer operated two of the older style trailers but was looking for something a little bit bigger and one that would dispense the grass out onto a feeding passage. With the herd rapidly expanding to 460 cows a new parlour was installed nine years ago and the cow accommodation was also revamped. As part of that change, the cows then fed from a silage passage hence the requirement for a trailer to dispense the grass. It just so happened quite by coincidence that Roy was over in Cheshire visiting Ed Walley again and learned about a larger trailer that was for sale at a nearby auction. The trailer had been designed by Ed Walley and built by an outside engineering company. It was 25-foot-long and was already a number of years old.
Harpur knew a new trailer of this type would set him back £20,000 (€22,888) but was relieved to pay just over half that for the trailer at the auction. “We were lucky to get the trailer for that price,” the farmer said. It is around 15 feet long and holds about seven tonnes of fresh grass. “To feed over 800 head of cattle we harvest four loads of fresh grass per day and dispense the grass in the passages for the cattle. The cows are averaging 9,500 litres of milk per year with 2,800 of those litres coming from forage. When we bought that trailer is was only on a single axle. In order to make it more stable we added a second axle from an old slurry tanker we had in the yard. It has performed well all these years and the only mechanical work we have to do on it is add new bearings to the beaters,” Harpur explained.
Never looked back
The floor on the trailer is hinged and the beaters simply push the grass out. It’s a straightforward machine and has served Harpur’s farm well all these years. “The system works well for us as we have 135 acres to cut around the farm. We also grow 85 acres of wheat to use in the diet feeder for the animals and cut 300 acres of grass for silage, three times per year. Back in 1999 people thought we were daft keeping the cows in and harvesting the grass for them to eat. However, here we are 17 years on and have never looked back. It is encouraging to see a number of other farmers using the same system and also the number of machinery manufacturers that offer a zero grazing type of machine, albeit built on forage wagons rather than the offset mower style,” Harpur concluded. As both the mower and the trailer are advancing in years, the farmer does have a second PZ mower to hand should the other one break down.