Welsh prison dairy farm installs robotic milkers

Prisoners working on the UK’s last remaining prison dairy farm are being trained to use the latest technology to prepare them for farming jobs upon their release.

Robotic milking machines have been installed at HMP Prescoed, in Usk, Monmouthshire, to make the dairy unit mirror some other modern working farms across the country.

Prisoners will be trained in operating the machines in a move intended to boost their employment prospects and to reduce the chances of reoffending.

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This will involve an on-site training course and qualification on servicing and maintaining the robotic machinery, which the prison hopes to develop with the supplier. 

The prison’s land-based activities manager, Richard Gough, said: “We see a wide range of prisoners who come through the gate at HMP Prescoed, the majority of which have never even set foot on a working farm before or, in many cases, had a regular job.

“We spend the time we have with them helping them learn new skills and gain experiences such as working with animals, working outdoors, using farm machinery utilising the newest and latest technology, and developing them into team players.”


The two new machines have been installed at Cilwrgi farm, which has been owned by the prison since 1939.

The prison service hopes that prisoners gaining a qualification for servicing and operating the machines should translate to finding employment faster, helping to fill the staffing gaps at farms upon release.

Currently, the farm has a herd of 120 Pedigree Holstein cattle and supplies milk to Tesco under the Tesco Sustainable Dairy Group initiative, with Muller collecting and processing the milk.

“The prisoners are very much part of the team at Cilwrgi farm and share in our experiences,” said Mr Gough.

“If we can show them that they can achieve all these things in the time they are with us, and prepare them for the routine of working in a regular job having obtained a formal qualification, the risks of reoffending is greatly reduced,” said Mr Gough.

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