Most farmers can agree the benefits of automating the task of manure scraping from a time-saving perspective. Freeing up capacity for other tasks such as checking cows, foot trimming or considering breeding decisions rather than the monotonous task of scraping is preferable to most. However, the financial advantages are considerable too, says Lely Atlantic’s Christian Nightingale.
“Diesel costs have shot up massively and 150p per litre for red diesel is not uncommon,” he says. “A tractor scraping out sheds uses somewhere between 5 and 10 litres of fuel per hour. On a big unit it’s not difficult to rack up 5 hours a day scraping. That’s a lot of fuel.”
The Lely Discovery uses 2.1KW and Discovery Collector use 3KW of electricity per day costing around 38p - 54p per day (based on June 2022 prices of 18p per KW). Other costs of running the Discovery are minimal, says Christian. It requires routine cleaning as it is important to keep the sensors free from muck and will need replacement tyres and other wear parts from time to time, he explains. “We estimate £1 per day running costs in total. That’s a conservative estimate, but obviously it will vary according to the size of the yards and what tariff the farm is on.”
Aside from running costs there are further financial benefits arising from the Discovery’s ability to keep the barn cleaner, particularly from the reduction in mastitis, digital dermatitis and lameness, explains Christian.
“Each clinical mastitis case can cost the business £320 in veterinary assistance, treatment and losses in yield.” Estimates from AHDB suggest that clinical mastitis will affect 16% of the herd each year. “In a 100-cow herd that’s £5120. Plus once there has been a case of mastitis that cow may not recover to her true yield potential within that lactation.”
Similarly, digital dermatitis cases cost around £50 in treatment and lost milk, he says. With 20 to 25% of the herd affected (AHDB estimate) that could be as much as £1000 to £1250 for a 100-cow herd. For lameness AHDB estimates similar levels, but the cost to the farm is £180 per case, he continues. “That’s £3600 to £4500 per year for the 100-cow herd.
“If we can reduce these cases by just 5% that is a huge cost saving for customers and improves the health and welfare of the herd.”
Add the benefits of time saving and less reliance on staff to the mix, and the arguments for automation really stack up, concludes Christian. “Farmers who are interested in exploring what Lely Discovery could mean for their farm can contact their local Lely Center who would be very happy to discuss it further.”
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