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Automated feeding: reducing fixed costs, improving efficiency

Replacing a tractor drawn tub feeder with the Vector automated feeding system will enable Andrew Griffi ths to make annual fixed cost savings of almost £30,000 after his agreed new electricity tariff kicks in on 1 May 2023. “Reduced time and diesel have more than halved fixed costs to just over £400 a week, while the system paid for itself quite easily within the first four years at the then tariff rates after installation in 2015,” he says.

“The four hour daily routine filling and mixing the feeder wagon has been replaced with one hour a day spent filling the kitchen. We’ve been able to free up a tractor and its associated depreciation costs.” That’s not all. The system has introduced several other benefits which are contributing to the unit’s performance efficiency, says Andrew who is currently progamming the Vector to daily mix eight different diets – milking cows, milking heifers, close up dries, far off dries, bulling heifers, in calf heifers, weanlings and calves aged four months and over.

Consistency and precision: the system is guaranteed to accurately weigh each component and deposit it into the tub for mixing every single time. Before, we could be caught out overfilling the bucket particularly on a weekend morning.

The Vector is able to manage very small amounts of different components, for example we programme a 180kg mix for the youngest calves, something we could never achieve with our mixer wagon.

Frequency - little and often: the milking cows for example are fed between 14 to 21 times a day. The system is not only continually mixing and feeding out small amounts of fresh feed, but also providing every animal with the same opportunity, even the more timid ones come up to the feed fence whenever they wish.

Minimal wastage: we clean out the troughs every two weeks and end up with just a barrowful; previously we spent 30 minutes every day and cleaned out up to 100kg of waste.

Bulls Green, traditional feeding v robot fixed costs (projected from May 2023)

Tractor drawn mixer wagon     Lely Vector    
Labour Hrs/Week £ Labour Hrs/Week £
Loading, filling, feeding out 28 £420.00 Filling and maintaining kitchen 7-8 £112.50
Pushing up 14 £210.00      
Power     Power    
Diesel: loading, mixing,
feeding out
260 L/Wk £286.00 Diesel: cutting forage,
filling kitchen
76 L/Wk £83.60
Diesel: pushing up
(ave 3.5 x day)
70 L/Wk £77.00 Electricity: loading, mixing,
scanning, feeding out, pushing up
455K/Wk £209.30
Total weekly running cost   £993.00     £405.40
Total annual running cost   £51,636.00     £21,080.80


Electricity tariff from 1 May 2023, 39p/kWh night; 53p/kWh day