Since installing the Discovery 120 Collector, Paul White is saving two bales of sawdust each day. This is saving him £8.60 a day and over a 6-month housing period in the winter will be a saving of £1500 in bedding alone.
Part One – First Impressions of Lely Collector manure robot
Paul White, who runs a 130-herd dairy and beef farm at Wonwell Court Farm near Kingston, South Devon, purchased the Lely Discovery 120 Collector in March 2021. We visited him 6 weeks after installation to hear his first impressions.
At the time of visit in April 2021, the cows are outside grazing during the day and only housed overnight so the Collector is working throughout the night. It is programmed to start its rounds at 8.30pm and runs through to 9am following 6 predetermined routes and navigates its way around the passageways using built-in sensors. Instead of pushing the slurry forwards, the Collector uses a vacuum pump to suck it into its tank and water spraying from the front and rear of the robot ensures that the passages are kept as slip free as possible. The cubicle passages in the barn are very level and Paul says that historically there was a lot of muck build up at turnout in the mornings but the immediate effect of the Collector working throughout the night is the cleanliness of the floors each morning.
“The beds are visibly cleaner in the mornings when the cows go outside simply because the cows are not transferring muck onto the bedding from their legs or tails and then lying on it all night”. Paul also explained that it isn’t just the beds which are less soiled; it was immediately obvious how much cleaner the cow’s legs, tails and udders are each morning and he said that even visitors to the farm have been commenting on the difference.
Paul is now saving two bales worth of sawdust each day due to cleaner cows requiring fewer bedding changes. This is saving him £8.60 a day which over a 6-month housing period in the winter will be a saving of £1500 in bedding alone. The Collector will have paid for itself within 3- or 4-years Paul predicts as it is also saving 1.5 hours in paid labour, tractor depreciation and fuel costs.
In addition to the Collector, Paul has recently installed a new foot bath and the combination of both pieces of equipment has vastly improved foot health and there is no digital dermatitis in the herd now.
Paul thinks it will be interesting to see what difference the Collector makes to the cleanliness, health and welfare of the cows once they return to the barn full time in October for over wintering. They will enter the barn in a clean state having been outside for 6 months, so he is keen to see how clean the Collector keeps the herd moving forward.
“The installation was easy, Simon (Simon Holt, the Lely Center Devon & Cornwall Barn Products Specialist) took time to ensure that the routes were programmed correctly and now that the cows are out during the day, Simon will reprogramme the route around the feed passage as the cows are now using minimal silage. I was pleased with how quickly the cows got used to the robot and within 2 weeks they took no notice of it at all.”
We are planning a follow-up visit once the cows come back in for the winter to see what Pauls’ experiences of the Collector are after using it full time with housed stock for a few months. Watch this space…