Bluebell Dairy, a blossoming family-run farm park situated on the outskirts of Derbyshire in Spondon, has invested in the latest robotic milker equipment to boost efficiency and increase productivity.
The beloved farm park, which opened its gates to the public in 2008 and has built a strong reputation as a dairy farm, has recently invested in a very special piece of equipment, known as a robot milking machine, which will allow cows to ‘choose’ when they want to be milked.
The Lely A3 Milker, which is designed to optimise herd comfort and milking productivity, has been installed at the Derbyshire farm, offering a practical solution for the busy working farm, but also provides a new educational experience for visitors.
Oliver Brown, Owner of Bluebell Dairy, said: “This is a great investment for our farm and we’re already very impressed with the results the robot milker is delivering. Our cows have never seemed happier! We’re allowing our cows to make decisions on when they want to be milked, which overall increases their levels of comfort.
“In traditional milking parlours, the cow has the stress of being ushered out of the cubicle and into a collecting yard twice a day, which is very time-consuming, plus with added issues like heat stress in the summer months, can have a huge effect on reproduction and physiology.”
Lely, founders of the robot milker, found that through the use of their technology farmers experience increased milk production, a higher milk yield and the ability to utilise manual time more productively across the farm. The Milker is designed to space out milking within the herd which can ensure reduced herd tension, free eating, free roaming and less hierarchical bullying among the cows.
As Bluebell have a smaller herd of 15, the family decided to opt for a second-hand system that they expect to last them anywhere between 7 to 10 years, setting them back £30,000 compared to £120,000 brand new. Once up and running with the new milker the farm expects to see an increase of milk production, around 10 to 20 per cent, when compared to traditional milking.
Oliver added: “The robotic milker doesn’t just offer a milking service, it also monitors each cow giving it a unique ration so things like weight, temperature and health can be tracked. When the cow enters the system, it is weighed, their weight is recorded, then the lasers will target the teats, clean them and then the milking unit is applied. Once the cow is released, the system will flag up any sick cows by measuring their temperature and weight plus any conductivity of the milk.”
A main driving force behind Bluebell’s investment is not only to increase the productivity of its herd but to also alleviate the daily milking strain and enable visitors to see cows being milked throughout the day. Currently the family-run farm milks their cows by hand twice a day but with this new installation, the cows are milked throughout the day, offering a first-hand educational experience to all visitors.
Oliver added: “A huge incentive for this investment is the opportunity to offer our visitors even more from their visit to the farm. It is really important that we provide not only a welcoming and inviting experience for the whole family, but also an educational one. We welcome regular school trips to the farm, so this new educational experience will be available to all ages.”