There has been a noticeable reduction in digital dermatitis throughout the herd since installing the Lely Collector robot says Jeff Harris, and he is seeing cleaner cows in general and with udders being so much cleaner, milking times in his parlour have reduced as he is not needing to clean the cows so thoroughly pre milking.
Jeff, who works on his family farm near Crediton in Devon has a dairy herd of 120 cows with 108 milking currently and has seen a difference not just in the health of his cows since purchasing the Lely Collector, but also a significant reduction in manual labour hours and costs.
“A huge labour saving has been the most noticeable difference for me especially in the height of winter when all the cows are housed inside. I used to scrape out for 1.5 hours a day in the past, so we are now saving 10.5 hours a week (or one whole day a week of time). Also, the Collector is cheaper to run than a tractor.” Not scraping out twice a day has created time in the day for Jeff to focus on other jobs and means he doesn’t have to stop during busy times to muck out. Jeff who had a baby girl 4 weeks ago appreciates the fact that he doesn’t have to worry about scraping the barns out in the morning, giving him a little more time to spend with his partner and new-born. Jeff also believes that the Collector makes decisions regarding when to turn cows out much easier, as decisions aren’t being ruled by the limitations of the scrapers not being able to keep the sheds clean; he can now turn out when it is right for cows and fields as he knows that the Collector will keep on top of the work for however long is needed.
Using the app, Jeff was able to confirm that the Collector had cleaned his barns 37 times in the previous 24-hour period whilst following nine different pre-determined routes. Jeff thinks that the Collector is a very user friendly and a very well thought through bit of kit and especially likes how it connects to his phone giving him data insights into where it has cleaned and flagging any issues up straight away.
“The fact that the route can be programmed so that in sections of the barns which don’t need to be sprayed with water, this function can be paused until you get to a section of the barn which does need spraying, is a really clever feature. The Collector is also far more versatile than a chain scraper as it can go around corners sucking up slurry as it goes.”
A positive from the installation which Jeff doesn’t think is mentioned enough is that his sheds, which were put up in the 1970s, didn’t have to be altered at all to accommodate the Collector. “It doesn’t matter on the barn set-up or how old they are, the Collector can be programmed for any type of route. There just needs to be an area to dump the slurry. This was great for us with our old barns.” Jeff also complimented the ease of installation, “the design and installation was really easy with Gary and Simon with good follow-up calls after installation. I haven’t had any problems which can’t be fixed using the app, but it’s really good to know that an engineer is always at the end of the phone if needed.”
Jeff finds the maintenance of the robot very simple. Approximately every 10 days he will clean the ultrasound sensors and if the robot has an issue the type of beep it admits – which differs from its normal ‘working beep’ will notify him. Jeff explained that you can normally sort the issue via your phone and once it is back in the docking station, the Collector resets itself which will normally resolve any issues which may have cropped up.
The app also has an alarm system which alerts him to any issues and also keeps a record of any problems should he ever need to contact Lely Center Devon & Cornwall about any concerns.
“All-in-all, this is a very clever piece of kit and has made keeping the barns and cows clean a lot easier for us on the farm” concludes Mr Harris.