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Slurry vacuum saves time & helps foot health

Perry Beard is pleased to see the back of “monotonous” tractor slurry scraping following the installation of an automatic slurry robot, which is also proving beneficial to foot health.

When cows are housed, the Lely Discovery 120 Collector automatically moves around the cubicle shed vacuuming up slurry as it goes. It then deposits its load in a pit linked to the lagoon, and recharges itself. The robot has proved the perfect solution at Manor Farm, Whitminster, where automatic scraping isn’t an option.


The robot was installed in December 2019. As the herd is grazed from April to October, it has yet to have a full winter working. However, the cleaner environment means that slurry heel has already reduced by 70%.

“All of the feet are a lot cleaner,” Perry says. “Digital Dermatitis is less, but we haven’t eradicated it. We don’t get the slurry heel. That is the biggest thing we’ve noticed.”

This means he’s not having to treat as many cows, which is saving time and also helping to reduce antibiotic use. Perry is confident that there will be a further “step up” in foot health this winter, seeing as the robot will have been in operation from the start of the housing period for the first time. He is also predicting lower mastitis rates this winter because udders are cleaner.

He adds: “It’s better for the cows, better for the feet and who knows. it might have a knock on effect on TB. It’s just a cleaner environment.”

The robot carries out 14 trips a day around the shed, either along the feed troughs or cubicle passageways. Cows are bedded on mats and sawdust.

Perry says less time having to tractor scrape means he can focus on other work. “My time is better spent doing other jobs. We finish sooner, morning and night,” he says.

Installing the robot required minimal additional work as slurry channels were already in existence. Additional slats were installed at one end of the shed to allow the robot to deposit its load in two spots and travel for longer. All-in-all, Perry spent an additional £5,000 getting the system set-up for the robot. The robot has since proved easy to operate from his phone.

He adds: “I’m not a computer person at all, but the whole things is very user friendly. They did a good job designing the App for us farmers to use.”