It’s great to be able to share a real success story after all the difficulties caused by the Covid pandemic, and that’s just what what we have in the completely revised dairy unit installed at the Lackham campus of Wiltshire College & University Centre near Chippenham.
The project is a collaboration between Wiltshire College and the T H WHITE Dairy Division, designed to deliver a state-of-the-art teaching environment in which students on a new Dairy Engineering course are introduced to the remarkable advancements that are revolutionising the dairy industry.
The first part of the project – installation of two new DeLaval robotic voluntary milking units plus an advanced Bauer slurry control system and a day/night LED lighting system – was completed in late 2020 with the first milking taking place that November. The T H WHITE Dairy team has stayed close to the project ever since, supporting the installation and enhancing it with many further enhancements as the project moved forwards.
A third VMS robotic milking unit has been added in the unit’s theatre-style classroom and a total refit of Lackham’s conventional milking parlour has been carried out, including stripping out and replacing components, painting the walls and upgrading all automation with DeLaval’s integrated farm management platform Delpro. This advanced technology enables all aspects of cow welfare to be monitored 24 hours a day, as well as bringing together the data needed to make decisions relating to performance, feeding, health, milking and reproduction.
As the project team approaches its ‘close down’ meeting in early February we can reflect with satisfaction on the result. The teaching parlour is now fully operational with its unique classroom set-up providing theatre style teaching combined with the hands-on application of technology. One classroom wall houses a conventional milking parlour and a variety of wash systems, while on the other side students are trained on a fully operational VMS unit.
Specialist Dairy engineering education doesn’t get better than this, but how have the stars of the show – Lackham’s cows – settled into their new environment? “We have 120 cows being milked by the robots and 80 cows in the traditional parlour,” says Farm Manager Phil Steans. “The cows now in the VMS system were transferred from loose housing where they were being milked twice a day, with the robots. That was quite a big change for them and they also had to get used to the robot scraper and robotic silage pushers, but we were impressed at how quickly they adapted to the new regime. Yields are constant but the most noticeable difference so far is the big reduction in mastitis cases”.
“We are absolutely delighted with the system. The T H WHITE team has been brilliant in supporting the whole project from conception. Since the start-up they have been right there with us to see us through the transition.”
Lackham students will clearly be well equipped for a career in the dairy industry, but your farm can also benefit from all the latest technologies, whether you opt for robotic or conventional milking. For expert and impartial advice on any dairy installation just contact your T H WHITE Dairy rep, or call our branches at Frome (01373 465941) or Huntley (01452 830303).
You can also learn more about the specialist Dairy Engineering HNC/D at Lackham Campus and apply online at https://www.wiltshire.ac.uk/study/hnd-agriculture-dairy-engineering-full-time.