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There has been a noticeable reduction in digital dermatitis throughout the herd since installing the Lely Collector robot.*

Jeff Harris

“A huge labour saving has been the most noticeable difference for me since installing the Discovery Collector.” Jeff Harris*

Farm Facts

  • Nymphayes Farm, nr Crediton
  • 1 x Lely Discovery Collector
  • 135 cow Holstein Friesian / British Friesian commercial herd
  • 7,500 litres


Jeff, who works on his family farm near Crediton in Devon has a dairy herd of 135 cows with 120 milking currently and has seen a difference not just in the health of his cows since installing the Lely Discovery Collector in November 2020, but also a significant reduction in manual labour hours and costs.

Labour saving has been the most noticeable benefit for me. In the height of winter when all the cows are housed inside; I used to scrape out for 1.5 – 2 hours a day in the past, so we are now saving approximately 10 - 14 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 has two young daughters, 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 wife and children. Jeff also believes that the Discovery Collector helps to make decisions regarding when to turn cows out much easier, as he isn’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 Discovery Collector will keep on top of the work for however long is needed.

Since installing the automated slurry robot, Jeff has noticed significantly cleaner legs and feet throughout the herd which has helped reduce digital dermatitis incidents from 20% to approximately 5%. With udders being so much cleaner, milking times in his parlour have also reduced by 15-20 minutes per milking during the winter housing period, as he is not needing to clean the cows so thoroughly pre milking.

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 hugely altered at all to accommodate the Discovery Collector. The minimal modifications included lifting gates and cutting out the base of a door, installing a docking area for charging and a dump pit opening into the slurry flow channel at the end of the cubicles.

 “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 good follow-up calls from the engineers after installation. I haven’t had any problems which can’t be fixed using the app, but it’s good to know that an engineer is always at the end of the phone if needed.”

Using the app, Jeff was able to confirm that the Collector had cleaned his barns 39 times in the previous 24-hour period whilst following 11 different pre-determined routes. Jeff finds the Discovery Collector 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.”

Having recently installed rubber matting on some of the yard floors, Jeff is pleased with how well the Collector also works on this new surface.

Maintenance of the robot very simple, approximately every 10 days Jeff will clean the ultrasound sensors and if the Discovery Collector has an issue the type of beep it admits – which differs from its normal ‘working beep’ - will notify him. Jeff explained that you can typically sort the issue via your phone and once it is back in the docking station, the Discovery 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 keeps a record of any problems should he ever need to contact Lely Center Holsworthy 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.

“It never lets me down; I wouldn’t be without it!” concludes Mr Harris.


Additional benefits

The robot navigates independently using builtin sensors.

  • Cleans winter housing 39 times during a 24-hour period following 11 predetermined routes around passageways and collecting yard
  • During the summer, cleans 10 times in 24 hours throughout the collecting yards
  • 18 fewer incidents of digital dermatitis per year (AHDB £99/case) making savings of £1,782
  • Cleaner cubicles reduced sawdust requirement by approximately 40% during the housing period amounting to circa £1,000 cost savin

* The results mentioned are specific to this farm; calculated data will vary depending on specific installation conditions