‘Think Big’ to go grow herd size

According to AHDB figures, the average UK dairy herd almost doubled between 1998 and 2018. In 1998 the average dairy herd was just 77 cows. This increased to 148 in 2018 as farmers grew their herds to seek operational efficiencies and produce more milk.  To help meet the demand from dairy farmers looking to expand, DeLaval has launched its ‘Think Big’ initiative. 

Dairy farmers looking to increase herd size are presented with a plethora of milking systems that are often anchored to their choice of milking equipment. “For farms looking to grow, the choice of milking equipment can be influenced by a variety of farm pressures. Can the land, buildings, and other farm equipment withstand growth? Is there enough human resource to meet the demands of a growing herd? We have launched Think Big to help advise farmers more holistically when it comes to expansion,” explains DeLaval Think Big lead Wynand Bodenstein.

The Think Big approach was offered to a Somerset farm to help it select the right milking system. “Having Wynand and the DeLaval team help us with the decision to invest in a new E300 rotary was the best decision we made. It was taking us over five hours to milk 500 cows through a rapid exit parlour. We have now grown the herd to 700 and we are looking to increase to 750. Everything is easier and quicker with the new milking system which means we have more time to concentrate on herd health and farm management,” says Ross Edwards, Manor Farm, Somerset.

Milking equipment technology has created more options for farmers than ever before. Rotary, swing over, rapid exit and the rise of robots has made decision making harder for farmers. “Think Big is all about DeLaval applying our experience of fitting milking equipment on thousands of farms. We take a holistic approach to consider herd planning, feeding facilities, barn layouts, milking parlour or rotary sizing and system planning. Our in-depth analysis provides the roadmap to create the future operations of the farm with the whole process revolving around the farmer,” he concludes.

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About The Author

John Swire - Editor of Agronomist and Arable Farmer as well as responsibility for the Agronomist and Arable Farmer and Farm Business websites. After 17 years milking cows on the family farm John started writing about agriculture in 1998 and has since written for a variety of publications and has developed a wide circle of contacts within the industry. When not working John is a season ticket holder at Stoke City and also of late has become a fitness freak, listing cycling, swimming and walking as his exercises of choice.