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Robotic herd wins dairy feed efficiency award

Sector News Sector News6-12-2016

Charlie, who runs Southview Farm and Charlie’s Farm Shop in Pulborough in partnership with his wife and mother, beat off competition from around the UK, to win the Dairy Efficiency category of the inaugural ForFarmers Excellence in Farming Awards.

Set up

Charlie Hughes

Charlie milks 110 cows, with an average yield of 11,163 litres per year, through two Lely robots at Southview Farm, near Pulborough in West Sussex. He processes some of the milk himself and sells it, and a range of yoghurts, through his on-site farm shop.

Charlie has recently installed a grazing gate so that cows can utilise the fresh grass available to them. “It’s important to our system, and crucially to our customers, that the cows go out to grass,” says Charlie.

“All cows graze for four hours a day during the season and then any cow registered as in-calf is sorted by the gate and allowed out for further grazing later in the day.”

Cow health and nutrition are a key priority

The cows’ diet consists of grazed grass, grass silage, maize and fodder beet, as well as a compound specifically designed to complement the high quality forages Charlie provides. A Juno robotic feeder pushes up at the feed barrier twenty times a day to maximise utilisation.

New, easier to clean, water troughs have been installed, as well as an automatic calf feeding system. Cow health is also a priority at Southview Farm and cell counts have dropped hugely in the past few years.

Adopting innovation

“Charlie is a true innovator who is never scared to change,” says Peter Cade, ForFarmers area manager. “He’s open to new ideas, will judge their merit, and provided he believes they will benefit his business, he will adopt them."

"He’s built a great team around him and the results speak for themselves.”