FARMER FOCUS: Robot silage pusher on trial

Here I sit in my cosy office, watching the snow fall, wondering if this terrible weather will herald a warm, dry summer. The cynic says no, but some fibres of optimism still exist, writes Sandy Milne.

I am delighted to be taking up the task of a new Dairy Update columnist. We have just finished our three years as one of two Scottish dairy monitor farms so I am well used to exposing myself (I mean business) for others to dissect.

We are converting some more of our straw yard to cubicles. This is partly due to straw costs and partly in our continuing and sometimes frustrating quest to drop our mastitis cases from the current 45 for every 100 cows.

We are sifting through a myriad of cubicle and mattress designs to find what will be best for our cows. Sand has been ruled out mainly for its lack of mechanical sympathy. I think mattresses will come a very close second with the right bedding.

We are about to embark on a 60-day trial of a robot silage pusher-inner. If I can get a half kg of dry matter into the ladies that should be one litre of milk, which makes for a speedy payback.

I would be much happier if I could mount some weaponry on the thing to deal with the hundreds of pesky pigeons that fly in. They create a real mess and probably eat a fair bit of my expensive blend. I can just picture the scene of fleeing pigeons being pursued by a robot shouting “exterminate”.

Being in an area where seasonal grass-based production would be challenging, we house all year round, but with access to outside paddock loafing areas when it’s dry. Let’s hope the sun comes out and temperatures rise and things start growing sooner rather than later.

Sandy Milne, along with parents Ian and Dawn, farms Carcary Farms, which comprises two farms totalling 506ha. They run a 370 red and black and white Holstein Carcary herd along with their dedicated team. The all-year-round calving herd is milked three times a day and yields 10,300 litres

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