Lely Juno helps beef farmers save money and finish cattle earlier
- Mixed farm near Hartland, North Devon
- 400+ beef cattle
- 600 acres owned: 300 acres of winter wheat, winter barley, spring beans, 50 acres whole crop, 250 acres grazing
- 250 acres rented, of which, 56 acres winter wheat with the rest grazing
- 1 x Lely Juno feed pusher
- Installed September 2021
- 6.5kg increase in daily intake = £40 per head saving
Changes in the way cattle are being fed has seen significant financial and time saving benefits on Andrew & Bryan Olde’s Devon beef farm.
The Lely Juno feed pusher, installed at Blegberry Farm in September 2021 and controlled from a mobile phone, has had a measurable impact on finishing times and cost per head of cattle. Pushing feed every two hours along the 4 feed passages has seen daily intake increase by 6.5kg a day and the Olde’s predict that this will result in them being able to sell cattle up to 30 days quicker; it is also saving around £40 per head, and will increase the annual stock throughput. Bryan says, “I can say for certain that there are more cattle in the store shed putting on enough weight for them to be ready to be sold without needing to move them to the forward store shed. The store shed ration costs £1.09/head/day and the forward store ration is £2.17/day/head so there is an obvious saving there”
The brothers buy their steers and heifer stores from age four months up to 13 months old. Stores are grouped in pens of 15 and offered 28kg/head a day up until 17-18 months old. The ration is currently 10kg fodder beet, 1.5kg crimped wheat, 100g urea and 16.5kg grass silage. “By the time they move out of that shed they have grown enough frame, so they don’t require urea”, says Andrew who then mixes 10kg fodder beet, 4.5 – 5kg crimped wheat and 19kg grass silage to level at 33kg/head/day.
The installation of the Juno has been a welcome addition not just for brother’s Andrew & Bryan Olde, but for their children too who find the innovation a positive step in the quest to constantly move the farm on. Bryan says that teenage sons Monty and William instinctively understanding and enjoying technology and the fact they can control the Juno from their phone is keeping them interested in the progress and workings of the family farm.
Aside from seeing much less feed wastage – the brothers say that the passage is clean with the food gone when they inspect every morning – the Juno is saving them hours a day by eliminating the need to push feed up. It has also contributed to much calmer cattle. The sheds were noticeably quiet and stress free on our walk around and Bryan tells me that a major positive from the robot is the fact that bullocks aren’t harming themselves by pushing and jostling at the feed fence anymore; they know the beep from the Juno means food and are at the fence waiting for it to pass their pen. They are also no longer able to select fodder as it is constantly pushed up.
“The Juno is such a simple but great concept. The cattle hear the Juno beeping and they are on their feet at the fence waiting. It’s brought such a calmness to the sheds too.”
Financially, the Juno has not just brought a reduction in feed wastage and a quicker finishing time to the farm but has also positively impacted on the cost of pushing up feed. The Olde’s are now saving on fuel, tractor costs, tractor depreciation and labour hours. The Juno charges quickly and easily, and the energy-efficient motor requires only 1095kWh per year. As well as saving on fuel costs when compared to a tractor, it also has a positive effect on CO2 emissions in the barn. On average it costs £0.84 per day to run a Juno compared to a tractor at c£27.00 per day.
Andrew feels that the main difference he has noticed personally since the Juno arrived, is the amount of time he is saving at night. “I don’t need to worry about the cattle in the evenings and I am no longer having to prong food up to the fence late at night. It’s great, I now just walk the sheds checking the cattle, but I don’t need to worry about their rations as the Juno will be pushing up their feed throughout the night.”
“Basically, once you’ve fed-up in the morning, the work is done.”
Bryan and Andrew are both quick to praise the knowledge and professionalism of the Lely Center Devon & Cornwall staff; not only have they been with them every step of the way providing advice, barn drawings, and practical support when needed, but they are also a wealth of farming knowledge with Bryan describing Bas van Santen (Assistant Center Manager and lead FMS advisor) as a “walking encyclopaedia of Lely!” adding, “He’s so knowledgeable and has been extremely helpful supporting us with our next grant application; nothing is too much trouble.” Center Manager & Senior Engineer Dan Gifford along with Barn Products Engineer Simon Holt also received praise from the brothers who agree that nothing fazes either of them, with great phone support or on-site service visits when required.
The next step: Lely Vector?
After the positive impact the Lely Juno has brought to the business, Andrew and Bryan are now considering adding the Lely Vector automatic feeding system to their farming operation. By adding the Vector, which automatically mixes, distributes and pushes feed throughout the day and night, the brothers have calculated that they can save £10,000 in fuel, 20 work hours/week and produce a further 100 cattle through their system a year. Whilst the decision is grant dependent, the Olde’s have undertaken two trips with the Lely Center to Vector farms in the Midlands to see the robot in action and to discuss pros and cons with the farmers who use them.
Bryan admits that buying a Vector “is a huge decision to make, and not one we are going to rush into. However, after visiting the Lely farms further up country, it does look a very attractive prospect. We need to consider how we can improve and innovate the farm for the future, not just for us but for our children too, and the Vector will free up so much time that it does seem like a very viable solution. Adding the Vector will create so much more time for us to look after our stock and, hopefully, spend more time with our families”
Lely Juno Summary
- Financial savings on labour / fuel / time / tractor deprecation
- Less food wastage
- Calmer cattle = bullocks not harming themselves at the feed fence
- Weight gain in lower timescale and faster finishing of stock
- Lely Juno paying for itself