South East Farmer August 2020

Page 48


48 > Suzanne Owen and Greg Wood

<< Philip Bridges, co-director of suppliers Negus Chase, said the sophisticated system allowed the cows to visit whenever they wanted to, although it would not milk an animal before a suitable, pre-set amount of time had elapsed. “Because the cattle don’t have to wait to be milked, the yard is much quieter, too,” he said. The decision to switch to robotic milking was a family one, with significant input from Suzanne’s son Greg Wood, currently in the last year of a degree course in agricultural engineering from Harper Adams University, as well as from her other sons Timothy and Douglas. As a next generation dairy farmer in the

making, Greg shared his knowledge of the latest technology and pointed out that as things stood currently in the dairy world, farmers either had to “invest or sell up”. Greg said the family had been breeding cows for robots for the past seven or eight years to make sure that they had the right udder shape and teat spacing for the automated system. As a result, the farm had not had a single problem with the herd hooking up to the equipment, he said. “We have saved a lot of time, got rid of the early morning starts, improved life for the cows and introduced a more sophisticated monitoring system,” concluded Suzanne. “All told it was a great


decision and I am sure we will continue to find useful new features as we get to understand it fully.” The switch to the robotic system was a challenge for renowned refrigeration specialist John Haffenden, who was left with just seven or eight hours to connect up the re-sited bulk milk tank and refrigeration equipment between the morning and evening milkings. “We had done lots of preparatory work, but it was still a bit of a race against time on the day,” said John, managing director of Freshcold Ltd. “I’ve worked for Suzanne for many years and I was glad to be part of the farm’s shift to a new and more efficient way of doing things.”