Operator safety, energy savings and clever unique flooring all feature in a new dairy unit built at Northern Ireland’s Greenmount Agricultural College. Reporter and photographer Chris McCullough went to have a look.
The unit was already finished in late July of 2013 but it was only at the end of 2014, early 2015 that outsiders were allowed access to have a glimpse at the new dairy operation. The first year was used to remove some teething problems.
Greenmount College in Antrim started construction of its new dairy unit in July 2012 and were milking in late July 2013.
It’s not your normal dairy entrance but this one is geared up for visitors only and hosts a lift and meeting room plus viewing gallery.
Everything is within the 1 (60m2) structure including 12 calving pens which can cater for the 30 cows calving per month target.
The parlour of choice was a 16 unit double up Fullwood 50′ unit.
The bigger Packo Fullwood tank holds 13,000 litres of milk collected every second day and the smaller one holds 3,500 l. It is used for specially produced milk like higher fat or from cows on a special diet.
This Dutch designed flooring contains grooves for the animal waste to run along which keeps the cow’s feet drier. The cows have excellent grip on the floor thanks to correct sized grooves for their hooves.
Animal and human safety is the number 1 priority at the training college. These crush gates keep the operators safely behind closed bars at all times with 3 individual access points.
On this side of the dairy house the flooring is rubber coated concrete with grooves to allow the manure waste to run down helped by chain scraper.
Greenmount College farm manager Michael Graham, left, with assistant manager Jim Fulton in the new dairy unit.
All cubicles are in single rows with no walls to block vision. The brisket board is a plastic pipe that can be moved to suit different sizes of cows.
The shed is home to 150 cows but the college likes to have 5% more cubicles than cows to allow plenty of space.
Condon Engineering in County Louth supplied the cubicles and the mats are Kraiburg mattresses covered with a topcover.
Bull pen access is controlled by two gates following a semi-circle path. No human should ever be in contact with the bull even when moving him or cleaning out his pen.
There is a row of hoof pairing crushes to sort out any lameness issues in the herd.
Cow comfort is at the highest level in the calving areas with a good layer of straw and plenty of room in the maternity ward.