Improving efficiency and productivity with the Lely Vector, smart feeding system
Installing the Lely Vector has helped a father and son team drive milk yields and performance of their County Antrim based Holstein herd.
Maximising efficiency and productivity, while also being as self-sufficient as possible has always been a priority for Stephen and David Cargill. Their 150-cow herd of pedigree Holsteins averages 11,200 litres of milk at 4.31% butterfat and 3.42% protein with recent improvements contributing to the farm being announced as Supreme Champion of the Lakeland Dairies Milk Quality Awards in June 2023.
“One of the areas we’ve particularly focused on is improving labour efficiency,” explains David. “This was what initially attracted us to the Vector however, I was also intrigued by the data and insights available through the system. Before coming back to the farm I worked in engineering, so I’m very keen on using data to ensure we are being as efficient with our time as possible.”
After careful consideration, David installed the automatic feeding system in 2022 and quickly started seeing several benefits. “The Vector is solely responsible for mixing and feeding all rations, and is saving us at least three hours a day, which we previously spent on feeding animals. We are now able to feed tailored rations to six different groups of cows, which is something we wouldn’t have been able to do previously.”
This labour saving has given David more time to focus on data analysis and other tasks to help further improve herd efficiency. On top of this, he has also seen a significant reduction in running costs. “Our previous tractor and feeder wagon was much more expensive to run when you consider fuel, servicing, and replacement costs. While the Vector also requires servicing, so far it has been very reliable, and it is significantly cheaper to run as it uses electricity.”
After installing the Vector, David saw milk yields increase by 1.8 litres per cow, per day, alongside a significant reduction in acidosis. “I believe this is due to the precise and consistent rations that are prepared, as well as the fact that there is always fresh feed in front of the cows. The Vector gathers a great deal of information on a daily basis that is digested by the Lely Horizon management software. This allows us to have a good understanding of our feed efficiencies, animal health and allows the cows to develop their full potential in milk production’’.
David believes that automation has an important role to play in the future of farming. “I would encourage any farmers that are wanting to challenge their daily feeding costs and performance, to investigate the Lely, smart feeding system. Just because it’s been done a certain way for 20 years, it doesn’t mean there isn’t a better and more efficient way to do it!”