Cows take control at Plymouth Estates

21 April 2021
  • Plymouth Estates Oakly Park Robotic Dairy, Land Agent Cooke & Arkwright
  • Plymouth Estates Oakly Park Robotic Dairy, Land Agent Cooke & Arkwright
  • Plymouth Estates Oakly Park Robotic Dairy, Land Agent Cooke & Arkwright
  • Plymouth Estates Oakly Park Robotic Dairy, Land Agent Cooke & Arkwright

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Plymouth Estates has unveiled a revolutionary new robotic milking and feeding parlour at its dairy farm in Ludlow, Shropshire, providing a major boost to animal welfare.

Thanks to the state of the art Lely systems, the 250+ strong herd of cows at the 8,000 acre Oakly Park Estate now decide for themselves when to eat, drink, rest or be milked. The animals enjoy freedom of movement and greatly reduced stress levels, naturally increasing yields.

The Lely Astronaut milking system uses a free-flow concept, while the robotic milking stations are silent and extremely sensitive, so the cows are fully comfortable and free to choose when to be milked in keeping with their natural rhythms. As a result, they instinctively increase the number of times they visit, in turn improving the milk yield.

Complimentary to the milking system is Lely Vector, an entirely automated feeder which ensures there is always enough freshly mixed, nutrient rich food at the feed fence. It measures the feed, calculates the right ingredients and ensures there is never too much or too little food available. The cows are free to feed when they want and to make better use of their rations. This has been found to stimulate fodder ingestion and benefit animal health.

Chris Hyde, Director of Land Agency at Cooke & Arkwright, who provides land management advice to Plymouth Estates said, “Animal welfare was a major consideration for our client when deciding to install this incredible robotic system. It is of huge benefit to the herd’s health and comfort.

“The cows have adjusted very quickly because the system gives them such freedom of choice. They visit voluntarily and more frequently, which means they are more comfortable. It increases capacity and milk yield in a very natural way.

“The cows are visibly much happier and more relaxed using this system than they are with the traditional milking regime. It’s very rewarding to see as they live a much gentler pace of life. 

“As you walk around the unit, you are overtaken by a busy robot as it trundles off to feed the cows before returning to its station to re-charge and re-fill, which is as remarkable as it is bizarre. However, what amazes us now will undoubtedly become the norm in a very short space of time, and it is exciting that our clients are at the very cutting edge of this transformation.”

Milk produced at Oakly Park Estate is sold at the Plymouth Estate’s Ludlow Farm Shop which stocks milk, cheese, beef, lamb and Gloucester Old Spot pork as well as game, fruit and vegetables from the estate.

Cooke & Arkwright have been providing rating valuation advice to The Welsh Rugby Union Limited (“WRU”) and Millennium Stadium plc for many years. They were recently successful in achieving substantial reductions in the assessments of the Millennium Stadium, covering both the 2005 and 2010 rating list. These negotiated reductions yielded savings of c.£3.5m which, crucially, allows the WRU to re-invest in rugby throughout Wales. They advise the WRU across the group portfolio including the National Centre of Excellence in the Vale of Glamorgan. The valuation issues across the WRU portfolio are complex requiring a high level of understanding of the funding and finances of professional sport in Wales. Cooke & Arkwright’s experience and understanding of these issues and application to the rating valuation have yielded these substantial negotiated reductions. The WRU and the Millennium Stadium entrust our work to organisations with the required levels in experience and expertise in dealing with these complex issues. I am glad to say we have this expertise in Wales. I would have no hesitation in recommending ratepayers making use of this Welsh based expertise.

Steve Phillips, Group Finance Director, Welsh Rugby Union Group