Farmer/owner: Ali Dobson
Farm location: Cholmondeley, Cheshire
Farm name: Cross Lanes Farm
Herd: 140 Pedigree Holstein Friesians, 115 currently in milk
Milking system: Two Fullwood M2erlin robots
Date of installation: December 2006
When Rob, Hilary and Ali Dobson moved to Cross Lanes Farm in 1985, they milked using a 12 x 12 herringbone parlour which they later extended to an 18 x 18 unit due to an increase in herd. However the mobility of the cows was becoming increasingly difficult due to the parlour building’s entrance size. Ali was also interested in robotic milking and the benefits it would provide for the farm and his herd.
Due to the farm’s close proximity to the Fullwood head office and the Dobson’s enthusiasm for robotic milking, Cross Lanes Farm became a test site from December 2006 for the Fullwood Mark 2 robot and again in September 2009 for the Merlin 225. Due to the success of milking through both these robots, Fullwood asked Ali to take on the test farm role again for the latest robot, Fullwood M2erlin. This has enabled the Dobson family to have three models of robotic milking machine on the farm and help with the development of these so far.
The main benefits since using robotic milking on the farm include a significant reduction of mastitis cases, an increase of milk yield and the flexibility of Ali and his parents having more time for herd management. Plus, the average milk yield has increased to 28 litres per cow per day providing 8,500 litres per cow per annum with a content of 4.2% butterfat and 3.35% protein.
Ali comments “Overall, I’m really pleased with the new M2erlin – it really is streets ahead of the previous model. Fullwood have listened to their Merlin users and created even more benefits with the latest robot.” He adds “The M2erlin works very well alongside our two other robots, proving new additions can be added into an existing robotic layout and building without any problems.”