In just a couple of weeks, the entire dairy herd management and production process at Woofields Farm, Coddington near Ledbury is going totally robotic.
Fred Simcock farms around 1000 acres, growing 200 acres of first wheats, 384 acres of forage maize and milks 600 head of Friesian Holsteins with 400 followers. Cows are housed year round and fed a balanced ration, based on grass and maize silage. It’s a very progressive unit, with a lot of building and facility construction preparing the dairy system for robotic feeding, scraping, feed pushing and milking. Currently the herd average is at 10,300 litres and a butterfat of 3.9.
“Our future plan” commented Fred Simcock is to boost the herd to 650 milkers and through a strategic feeding plan, increase yield in the first instance to twelve thousand litres. We were in Italy recently at a dairy using the same robotic system that we are installing and they were achieving over fourteen thousand litres, so that is our ultimate target.”
All cultivation work, forage harvesting and muck spreading is carried out by the Woofields Farm team and Telehandlers are used widely for every element of materials handling. Over the years Fred has tried several brands, they’ve kept the older ones for general use but the acquisition of the latest Kramer 357 from Tallis Amos Group (TAG) has been a bit of an eyeopener.
“We’ve had the JCB, the Merlo and the Claas, which was produced by Kramer,” added Fred. “They all have their good points and bad points but this latest addition to the fleet, which already has fifteen hundred hours on it, has proven to be the best we’ve had. It’s got the best headstock out there and we’ve never seen any wear on them - and this is our third machine. The power, both in the engine and the hydraulics on this new Kramer is unbelievable. It just keeps going and I’m very pleased with it.”
Jamie Price is the operator on the Kramer, so what are his thoughts? “It is so comfortable,” commented Jamie, “I could sit in this all day and never feel tired, it is a remarkable machine, better than anything we’ve had before. It’s just about the right size for us, very manoeuvrable and easy to use, especially when swapping over attachments and implements - which helps us get through jobs quicker, resulting in higher productivity. The industrial tyres are just about the best ever - they go anywhere and do anything - perfect for all our jobs.”
This year’s forage season has started well for Woofields Farm with first-cut silage analysis coming back at 21.2 average protein and between 28-30% DM. All the muck is returned back to the field using an umbilical system and Fred finds that he is not needing to purchase Phosphate or Potash and his Nitrogen costs are less than two-thirds of what it used to be. He has the soil analysed every two years to ensure he is maintaining the perfect growing medium.
“We’ve got a good system going here,” added Fred, “TAG look after our Kramer for us. They are a very good firm, you just can’t knock the team at Leominster. They are always supportive, always do a good job and look after us and our equipment. We are a progressive farm and always want to make the right choices. TAG and the Kramer have been a perfect combination.”