The team at Alma Bank Farm in Leicestershire has seen improvements to cost efficiencies, milk yields and cow longevity since redesigning the dairy farm in 2018.
Over the course of a few years, they have installed a 24/48 herringbone parlour in their single-span 180 ft x 220 ft shed, which also houses the large collecting yard, AI race for 24 cows, cattle crush, footbath, and 200 cubicles with mattresses. They recently added CCTV and LED lighting throughout the buildings for better observation.
Grazing 150ha, and autumn block calving, the cows are fed in the parlour and graze grass for approx. 9 months of the year, with two 800 tonne silage clamps providing feed for the remaining months. Slurry is spread onto fields when possible. Breeding pedigree Ayrshires and now cross-breeding with British Friesian to improve production with high milk solids, approx. 80 replacements are bred on-farm each year.
Milking 200 cows, all milk is sold to local cheese producers, and the business is part of a farmer-owned cooperative, buying all feed, fuel and fertiliser through the group. They also host general public groups and schools for guided farm tours, using their own Cow Classroom.
Cow flow and welfare were the main aims of the facility improvements, which has led to reduced costs and improved efficiencies. Milking can now be completed by one member of staff in 1.5 hours, parlour routines have improved, and cows are happier to come into the parlour. Milk yields and quality have also increased; happy cows means happy farmers.