A Dutch innovation is working a treat in solving an age old problem on the new FFIT dairy unit at Myerscough College, Lancashire.
Older milkers can no longer bully heifers away from troughs and deprive them of their allotted rations as walk-through FeedStations designed and manufactured by Hanskamp have been installed. These have a backing gate protecting the animal when eating from more dominant members of the herd.
James Oddie, College Director of Farming Innovations and Operations, says the walk through FeedStations means animals are not at risk of injury trying to back out once finished eating.
“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. 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 three feed options. This is a very well designed feeding system build 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 then to see the rest of their herd as they feed. 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 Hanskamp FeedStation walk-through a real step forward in herd management.”
The recently opened £5 million FFIT, Food and Farming Innovation and Technology Centre, on the 900 acre Myerscough College farm near Preston exists to encourage the adoption of precision farming techniques.
Commenting James Oddie emphasised that the college farm is a commercial unit facing the same challenges as other farm businesses. “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. The farm also runs over 1,500 sheep.