Investing in the Discovery 90 SW automated slurry scraper is one more tool contributing towards improving herd efficiency.
Gareth Tape who manages the 110 Hardisworthy pedigree cow Holstein herd with his father, Les, near Bideford, Devon says the robot has also introduced significant cost savings resulting in payback within approximately two years.
Six years on from swapping a conventional parlour and housing system requiring daily scraping out for a new build shed with two A4 robotic milking systems, a Juno feed pusher together with the Discovery slurry scraper and the robot is testimony to consistently doing an efficient job, 24 hours a day. “There’s little splashing so the cows’ legs and tails are cleaner, their feet are cleaner and so too are their udders. When the cows lie down they are no longer lying on dirty wet claws. Cleaner cows are also contributing to cleaner milk; cell count stands at SCC 120 and Bactoscan in the 8 to 10 range. “Another great advantage is muck is no longer being dragged on to the cubicle beds, so they too are being kept a lot cleaner; we bed up once a day and have been able to reduce sawdust requirements by 30% making savings of £1,000 a year. That’s not all. “Twice a day scraping out tied up a tractor, it took 1.5 hours and when you cost in labour at £5,000 to £6,000 a year plus £1,200 in tractor depreciation plus diesel, running the Discovery is insignificant at just 8p per day electricity costs,” he says.
The robot is programmed to run every hour scraping four passageways and crossovers; the run takes 20 minutes, after which it moves to the docking station to recharge and fill up with water. Spraying water ahead of itself certainly makes the floor surface cleaner and less slippery, he says. It also cleans the heelstones 12 times a day.
“Lely Center Devon & Cornwall provides fantastic backup; its engineers are the best you can find; present them with any issue and they’ll promptly sort.” He adds: “Our whole system is based around the cow, what she wants to do and when rather than us managing her day, so the less time I spend in the shed the better. The Discovery is adding another layer to our dairy set up, it reduces the amount of time we interfere with the cows; 99% of the time they ignore the robot, whilst overall, it provides them with more opportunities to make their own choices and subsequently exploit their potential. Yield is currently on target to achieve an average 11,000 litres.”