Smart farming

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Cow bullying reduced with new feeders

An agricultural college farm in England is the first to install the Dutch made Hanskamp walk-through parlour feeders.

The team at the new Food and Farming Innovation and Technology Centre (FFIT) dairy unit at Myerscough College, based in Lancashire, fitted the new system at the end of last year and already are achieving good results. The benefits of this system is that young heifers just entering the herd are not bullied away from feed troughs by older established cows, therefore allowing them to consume their allocated rations in peace. A backing gate on the feeder prevents other cows from pushing in when one cow is eating.

A general view of the innovative  dairy unit for 270 milkers at Myerscough College near Preston in Lancashire. Note the 2 walk through Hanskamp FeedStations between the water troughs and each row of cubicles.
A general view of the innovative dairy unit for 270 milkers at Myerscough College near Preston in Lancashire. Note the 2 walk through Hanskamp FeedStations between the water troughs and each row of cubicles.

Exit by the front

In many other feeding stations the cow has to leave backwards so is frequently pushed away by other cows, often resulting in injury to legs and udders. Also the hoof claws are often put under unnecessary stress when the cow tries to turn when making an exit. The Hanskamp FeedStation walk-through lets the cow exit by the front which means that not only can she protect herself with her head, but both feet and legs are less stressed. Not only does this feed station dispense concentrates, it also can feed high energy liquid feeds, such as GSAH Glycol Energy.

Feeding system prevents injury

The feeders have been coupled with Collinson hoppers as well as AfiMilk and AfiLab equipment and software. According to James Oddie, the college’s director of farming innovations and operations, animals using this feeding system are not at risk of injury trying to back out once finished eating.

Mr Oddie said: “Udder, feet and leg injuries are much less likely and cows like this quiet, welfare friendly system that gives them peace to eat and then exit forwards out of the feed station.”

3 feed options

“The efficiency and accuracy is improved as feed is only consumed by the correct cow especially as the ID system works very well. That’s important as we are currently using 3 feed options. This is a very well designed feeding system built to the high quality you would expect from a Dutch manufacturer. Cows are herd animals and the open tubular design of the Hanskamp FeedStation allows them to see the rest of their herd as they feed,” Mr Oddie said. The flow of cows through the feeding stations is also maximised by the walk through design that keeps cows calm and content. “The Hanskamp FeedStation is certainly cow friendly as within days all our milkers were walking in to get fed. The design, including the lack of noise, makes this walk-through system a real step forward in herd management,” Mr Oddie added.

Encourage precision farming techniques

The 900 acre college just recently opened the new FFIT dairy unit which cost £5m (approx. € 5.6 million). The goal at Myerscough College is to encourage the adoption of precision farming techniques. Mr Oddie emphasised that the college farm is a commercial unit facing the same challenges as other farm businesses.

He said: “We have to generate our own income and give students real farming experience with the emphasis on innovation for increased profitability.” Aside from 220 dairy cows Myerscough College has over 600 beef cattle, including a suckler enterprise and a small pedigree Aberdeen Angus herd and also runs over 1,500 sheep.

For more information on Precision Farming see FutureFarming.com

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