An Easebourne farm has become one of the first in West Sussex to invest in a state-of-the-art robotic milking parlour.
Dairy farmers have faced difficult recent times with figures suggesting the number of dairy herds in West Sussex has halved to around 60 since 2002.
But James Renwick is hoping to buck the trend by investing in the latest generation equipment at Buddington Farm with the help of a LEADER grant designed to help fund capital projects to grow the rural economy. He has installed two robotic milking machines with the aim of improving herd welfare and farm efficiency.
“The equipment will allow us to secure our cows’ long-term welfare by increasing the number of daily milkings,” he said. “The new cow-friendly regime is also expected to increase milk yield by 15 per cent. This is more natural for the herd with less standing around waiting to be milked in large groups, therefore reducing the chances of contracting lameness.”
The system offers the cows the freedom of entering the robots when they choose and can also determine when a cow last gave milk.
Once inside, the cows are identified by their tags and led out if they have been milked recently. Otherwise their udders are brushed and cleaned before a laser pinpoints where to connect to the machine, adjusting its grip to be gentle.
A built-in computer monitors a herd’s health and provides information, leading to an earlier diagnosis of potential health issues.
James Osman, National Farmers Union county adviser for West Sussex, said: “It is really encouraging to be able to support innovative dairy farmers who are looking to increase efficiency and productivity.”
West Sussex County Council leader Louise Goldsmith added: “We all know dairy farms have had a tough time and we all want them to thrive and grow. The LEADER grants are a positive way to help our farmers.”