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Milking robots - improving the unit’s all-round efficiency


Investing in two A5’s robotic milking systems is helping Will and Nicola Bowe to achieve their business goals and have a family life. “We’re about making this business more efficient. We take great pride in what we do, we’re striving to be the best,” says Nicola. So far success is reflected in their 105-cow commercial herd’s performance. “Yield has improved by 50% to an average 11,500 litres, whilst maintaining solids. We have a lot fewer health issues, and the vet bill has been cut by 30%.”

That’s not all; 18 months after ‘switching on’ the system, the couple say the robots have introduced an element of flexibility; Nicola manages the T4C software programme from the farmhouse whilst juggling childcare - their three children are under three years of age whilst Will, who has a 3 plus golfing handicap, can take time out to pursue his lifelong interest and also introduce their eldest son to the game.

“Add together the benefits and we can already see the return on the investment, which came without the need for any further outlay.” The Bowes found they were able to install the A5s in existing cow accommodation.

“This unit has a long history of dairy farming which Will wanted to continue without being tied to a cow’s tail, finding the right staff was getting harder and we knew we couldn’t manage the herd on our own. After taking over the farming partnership from his dad John, he decided to progress.

“We had the lightbulb moment when we visited a unit with milking robots installed in a new build cubicle shed. We eventually agreed on Lely robots because they offered more up to date technology. The Lely Center Longtown team was really helpful at start up, in fact it continues to provide great service; initially it concluded we didn’t need to invest in new accommodation; our 40-year-old steel framed shed with 120 cubicles was suitable to achieve the required cow flow.”

• Increased yield

• Improved health

• Enhanced cow welfare

• Better quality of life

The Bowes believe in team work. Will checks the collect cow list first thing before progressing with day to day herd management and other routine work on their 300-acre mixed unit based near Workington. Nicola, a police officer currently taking a career break to run the farm and have a family, picks up to manage the herd with the T4C software programme.

“Life is incredibly busy, however I soon got the hang of T4C; it’s straight forward to understand and respond to. I intermittently check information which in turn helps us to make better management decisions for the cows’ health and welfare. I’m able to identify issues quicker than we could in the parlour and report back to Will to manage,” she says adding: “Our plans are to continue to build the closed herd to 220 cows and invest in a further two A5’s. It’s all about making the unit better, and more efficient.”