Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Sunday 4 December 2016

Pictures: Behind the scenes at state-of-the-art €3.3m 230-cow dairy unit

State-of-the-art Antrim facility can accommodate more than 230 cows

Chris McCullough

Published 21/10/2016 | 13:00

The cubicles for the milkers are in single rows with no walls to block vision. The brisket board is also moveableto suit different sizes of cows. The flooring is rubber coated concrete with grooves to allow the manure waste to run down helped by chain scraper.
The cubicles for the milkers are in single rows with no walls to block vision. The brisket board is also moveableto suit different sizes of cows. The flooring is rubber coated concrete with grooves to allow the manure waste to run down helped by chain scraper.
It's not your normal dairy entrance but this one is geared up for visitors only and hosts a lift and meeting room plus viewing gallery.

The North's agricultural college at the Greenmount campus in Antrim has recently completed a total revamp of its milking and dry cow housing, at a cost of a cool £3m (€3.3m).

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The main shed accommodates 150 cows along with a brand new Fullwood double 16 herringbone milking parlour, while the 1,200m2 dry cow house caters for 82 cows.

Greenmount College in Antrim started construction of its new dairy unit in July 2012 and were milking in late July 2013.
Greenmount College in Antrim started construction of its new dairy unit in July 2012 and were milking in late July 2013.

While the unit is built to the very highest standards due to its public exposure, the reality for many herds in the North is that housing periods can stretch from August to early May, depending on calving patterns.

The overall cost includes some works carried out around the new dry cow house, including concreting part of a yard and installing new college security gates as the house is adjacent to a main road.
 

Suevla fast draining water troughs are installed in the building and are supplied by fresh water for drinking at a total cost of £1600 (€1860).
Suevla fast draining water troughs are installed in the building and are supplied by fresh water for drinking at a total cost of £1600 (€1860).

All the most recent work carried out by Pomeroy-based Quinn Automatic.

Five metre-wide central feed passages allow diet feeding, while the roof is clad with fibre cement and translucent sheeting, which is spaced one inch apart.

Four Storth rope and chain scrapers for a pair of 3m wide passages and two 4m wide ones cost £29,000 (€32,200). All four passageways are scraped into outside collection tanks which are then pumped into an outdoor slurry store.
Four Storth rope and chain scrapers for a pair of 3m wide passages and two 4m wide ones cost £29,000 (€32,200). All four passageways are scraped into outside collection tanks which are then pumped into an outdoor slurry store.

Inside the house, the floors consist of special concrete slabs made by Creagh Concrete, onto which grips are cast in order to maximise traction and increase animal welfare.

This building is naturally ventilated and includes a slurry management system incorporating ammonia emission reduction technologies.

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The ventilation and LED lighting systems were designed to optimise cattle health and productivity.

In order to manage the movement of cattle within the shed up and over-locking gates have been fitted. These also help the college staff work with individual animals in a safe manner, should the need arise.

Cross over points in the shed can be scraped clean when the hinged doors are lifted upright. They also form gates to guide the cattle over to the milking area.
Cross over points in the shed can be scraped clean when the hinged doors are lifted upright. They also form gates to guide the cattle over to the milking area.

Leaf filters have been fitted on the spouting roof to facilitate rainwater harvesting into a 3.5m high and 2.5m diameter storage tank with distribution unit attached. The water is then used for power washing the dry cow unit and for staff to clean their boots prior to entering and exiting the building.

In addition, this harvested water is used to flush out the slurry channels connected to the scraper system and to flush the channels that pipe the slurry to the main storage unit since the dry cow diet results in manure that is quite solid.

Special gateways for staff and students were installed along the feed passage to increase safety in the house.
Special gateways for staff and students were installed along the feed passage to increase safety in the house.

All the main doors of the new shed are roller doors operated by electric motors which also act as extra ventilation on a hot day should it be required.

An outdoor covered water tank collects rainwater to recycle and flush out the slurry channels and tanks.
An outdoor covered water tank collects rainwater to recycle and flush out the slurry channels and tanks.

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