DAVID Bragg is amongst Cumbrian dairy farmers who is embracing automation innovation.

Within weeks of introducing the Juno feed pusher to the family’s 180-pedigree cow herd based near Wigton, he says the robot has contributed towards an extra one litre per head per day, daily TMR intakes have increased by 1.5kg, whilst labour requirements have been minimised together with energy usage. “The feed pusher is one of those pieces of kit that is helping us do a better job and making the business more efficient to such a degree we are forecasting it will have paid for itself within 18 to 24 months,” he explains.

The Juno was introduced this spring to the Bragg’s new cubicle accommodation just six weeks prior to turn out. “We used to trough feed the TMR twice a day and cleaned anything that wasn’t eaten just as and when. Introducing the robot has heralded a whole new cost saving regime.The new shed design enables us to feed down the outside; during the housing period, we were able to reduce feeding out to just once a day and we programmed the Juno to push up feed 18 to 20 times a day, 24/7, keeping it fresh and sweeping up any waste. Since turn out, we are feeding the TMR buffer at afternoon milking time and the feed pusher has enabled us to take the decision to keep the cows in overnight for the first time. We can now put out our lights confident that the robot will keep the feed in front of the cows until next milking, having programmed it to push up every hour over night.”

Having explored all the various options whilst designing the new shed, David says the family opted to feed at the side, rather than down a central passage. “We were aware at the time we didn’t want our labour to be tied up for up to 1.5 hours a day pushing up feed six to eight times, whilst we would have had to invest in an attachment on a Merlo or JCB, which would tie up another machine. We started to look at a few feed pushers on other farms and found the Juno seemed to be the most favourable; we found it to be a very simple machine, it appeared to be doing a good job and we began to talk to the Lely Center Longtown team. We’re also finding the robot is improving cow health and welfare. As soon as it moves down the trough, you can see the cows get up and move towards the feed. A full trough means there’s less reaching, so there’s less stress on her neck and front claws, and since feed can always be accessed, competition is eliminated. Whilst keeping the shed active, the Juno is stimulating higher intakes and in turn is contributing to the higher yields.”

Established in 2009, Lely Center Longtown has evolved into a leading company for the design, supply and installation of automated milking, feeding and barn hygiene systems in Cumbria, Lancashire, Yorkshire and Dumfries and Galloway.