Farmer/owner: Richard and Sarah Lea
Farm location: Weston Lullingfields, Shropshire
Farm name: White House Farm
Herd: 140 Friesians
Milking system: Two Fullwood Merlins
Date of installation: February 2015
Richard and Sarah formerly milked their herd through a 14 x 14 herringbone parlour installed in 2000 but due to their twice a day milking routine taking up to 9 hours leaving an ever decreasing amount of time for other work around the farm, it was essential to find a new working pattern.
“Something had to be done because the milking was taking too long. We had upgraded the parlour but it was obvious that it was time for a change” explains Richard. “We used to employ a general stockman who helped us with milking but due to the size of the farm this was no longer financially viable.”
Richard and Sarah found the cost of improving their existing herringbone or installing a new parlour was almost the same as investing in a robotic system. Richard comments, “we were impressed by what we saw and how the robots didn’t miss a beat. The cows looked happy walking into the robot, they weren’t phased at all.”
“Fullwood was the obvious choice for our robotic system” he adds, “one of the reasons is the compatibility of the robots, regardless of which model, they can work together.”
Once the decision to purchase Fullwood Merlin robots was made, Richard and Sarah decided to extend an existing barn to provide plenty of room for the two robots, segregation gates, cubicles and handling areas. This now provides separated sections for bulling and calving cows.
“We had a very smooth transition from the parlour to the robots, on the first day we milked 110 cows through the two robots and milked the remainder in the parlour. On the second day, we milked the whole herd using the two robots. It all happened quickly and smoothly.”
Richard and Sarah have praised the support of local Fullwood dealer, DA Cotton & Son, located in Farndon, Cheshire. “The support has been fantastic throughout, they are always happy to help and we had two of their Engineers here for the first 48 hours of the robots being milked in.” The first day of milking with the robots was 2nd February 2015.
“The robots have changed our lifestyle,” Richard comments. “When we were using the conventional parlour, we spent our time outside of milking looking after the main herd with only a small amount of time treating them with ‘TLC’. Now with the robotic system it is the opposite of this – I have much more time to give the cows care and attention.”