Improving cow health, hygiene and welfare in slatted sheds

20Love Alistair.jpg

There’s no downside to this robot - the Discovery 90 SW automated slurry scraper. "Investing in the Discovery 90 SW automated slurry scraper has been one of the best decisions" says Alistair Love who manages an 84-cow Holstein herd based near Kilmarnock, Ayrshire.

“There’s simply no downside to this robot; it’s a cracking wee thing and we couldn’t do without it,” he says. “It’s slick. It’s easy to run. It gets the job done. Cow health and welfare have improved and we’re making cost savings. Furthermore, the cows have taken to it like a duck to water, they don’t even notice it working. We think the cows are a lot more content, whilst for us, the Discovery has made working with the herd a lot more enjoyable.”

The Loves swapped a chain scraper for the Discovery back in 2014. “We initially housed the cows in accommodation with solid floors before moving on to slats where we thought the chain scraper would work better, but the floors weren’t that much cleaner. Then my Dad, who was then in his sixties saw the robot working on another farm, came home and said we needed one.” The rest is history.

“Nowadays, there’s no longer a build-up of slurry in front of the chain scraper and there’s no stones, the slats are cleaner and dryer so cows are less likely to slip, and as a result of their feet staying cleaner, we’ve seen slightly fewer cases of digital dermatitis. There’s very little splashing so the cows’ legs, tails and udders are kept so much cleaner, to such an extent that milking is less of a chore. Also, Bactoscan has fallen from an average 28 to remain at an average 20."

“Muck is no longer being dragged on to the cubicle beds, so they too are being kept a lot cleaner and we’ve reduced the sawdust required to bed 120 cubicles in winter by 30% a day to 54kg.”

The robot was initially straight forward to set up, Alistair explains. “We’ve programmed it to run 20 times a day in winter, scraping the passageways and crossovers 18 times. It is charged up between each run and running costs amount to a few pennies in electricity power supply."

“Unlike other investments such as a tractor or fertiliser spreader, the Discovery is virtually maintenance free because there are so few moving parts. I renew the rubber scraper twice a year, and I’ve had to replace the wheels just twice in seven years.”

He adds: “Overall, the payback on one piece of equipment had been tremendous in terms of improving the unit’s overall performance, and for us it’s made life a lot better.”

  • Cleaner legs, feet and udders
  • Cleaner cubicle beds, reduced sawdust 
  • Minimal maintenance
  • Extremely low running cost