Anthony Oakes

W. A. and C. G. Oakes

Sponsored by: Arla

The latest technology is improving cow health and yields and reducing emissions and costs on 214-hectare (529-acre) Stublach Farm.

Managed by Anthony Oakes, the tenanted farm supplies milk to Sainsbury’s via Muller, with a closed herd of about 515 pedigree Holstein Friesians.

The 43% highest yielding cows are housed all-year-round, so they can be carefully fed, cleaned and monitored using a robotic milking system.

Cow collars collect data, enabling quick detection of health problems, and a robotic feeding system delivers optimum diet 24/7, reducing emissions, fuel and labour. The remaining 57% of the herd is out to grass and milked using a conventional 24:24 herringbone parlour, although Anthony plans to move all to a robotic milker.

He says: “We also have a fully automated robotic calf rearing shed, including an automated gale breaker system with weather station to optimise living environment. Automatic milk powder feeders allow calves to feed little and often 24/7. They never go hungry and are more happy and content.”

Sixteen CCTV cameras enable whole farm monitoring, particularly useful during calving time. Other technology used includes: a robotic scraper to clean sheds;
robotic grooming brushes; and animal movement detection devices.

A 52kW anaerobic digester reduces emissions, and a trailing shoe is used to spread digestate, minimising emissions from application.

An electric/hydraulic slurry piston pump has replaced the need for a tractor and umbilical pump, reducing emissions.

The farm also has a sustainable rainwater harvesting system.

Anthony says: “Technology has increased productivity, improved animal health and welfare, reduced costs, waste and emissions.”