Charlie Trivett, Herdsman at Castlewood Farm near Axminster, works with a 100-cow dairy herd and has seen a difference in the calmness of his cows since purchasing the Lely Discovery 120 Collector, as well as a significant reduction in manual labour hours and costs.
The herd is housed between two sheds with approximately 50 cows in each; one shed is still scraped out twice a day with a tractor and scraper and the other shed uses the Lely Collector manure robot. Charlie explains that, “the cows in the shed with the Collector are noticeably calmer and less stressed than the cows in the second shed, simply because they are not having to move twice a day to allow for scraping”. Charlie continued that the “since installing the Collector, the barn floors and passageways are cleaner, and the cow’s tails are cleaner, meaning their bedding is cleaner and, because the cow’s hooves are cleaner, digital dermatitis is down across the Collector herd.”
The plan for Castlewood Farm is to expand the concourse from the Collector docking station and to increase the Collector’s route to take it into the second shed so that all 100 cows benefit from the robot and the calmness, and cleanliness, it brings to the herd.
When the visit took place, the Collector was in the middle of its programmed cleaning route and the floors were being cleared of muck but the second barn, which had only been scraped clean 4 hours prior to inspection, was full of slurry and requiring Charlie’s attention again. Scraping just the second barn is taking Charlie approximately 1.5 hours a day (45 minutes twice a day) although this can sometimes take longer and is very labour intensive. Having the Collector on the farm, even just in one of the two barns, is saving Charlie 2 hours a day in labour freeing him up for other tasks around the farm.
In addition to the cleanliness, it has brought to the sheds, Charlie’s favourite feature of the Collector is the water sprayer as he can see how by keeping everything clean and damp, it is making the barn floor less slippery; it is a feature which is permanently switched on as it brings such a benefit.
Both Charlie, and farm owner Rob Corbett, have found the support from Lely to be excellent. Recently, the Collector developed a problem which was dealt with and fixed by a phone call to an engineer without any need for a farm visit. Charlie thinks that most issues can be sorted out inhouse as the software is intuitive and by keeping the sensors clean. When the robot is cleaned every fortnight, it works more efficiently and therefore eliminates most issues. Charlie explains that “if you keep the sensors clean, the robot doesn’t get ‘lost’. Basically, if you look after the robot, the robot will look after you.”