£350,000 have been invested by a farm in robotic milking machine that allows cows to milk themselves. James and Alec Cowan have signed up with dairy farming co-operative, South Caernarfon Creameries (SCC), and have installed the machine.
The robotic milking machine learns the identity and individual characteristics of every cow in the 120-strong herd, at the brothers’ mid Wales farm, Blaencwmpridd, in Llandysul, Ceredigion. The technology is predicted to increase milk production at the JH Cowan & Sons farm to 1.2 million litres a year at, with milking going on 24 hours round the clock and cows being milked up to five times a day.
“It is fascinating to watch how it works, the cows wander in and it picks up the teats every time. The robot uses lasers to learn the shape of the individual cows so it knows how to fit best with each one. It is better for the animal welfare, because they are milked when they are ready,” said James Cowan.
“It works on all levels. Happier animals provide better food. It will increase milk production too because we are milking when the cow is ready. We produce between 4,000 litres and 8,000 litres a day so overall we will increase production to 1.2 million litres a year. It’s amazing to think that when my father came to Wales in 1948 as part of the war effort he was 14 and they were milking cows by hand, now I am milking cows with robots,” he added.
South Caernarfon Creameries has 130 farming members across North and Mid-Wales and processes more than 100m litres of Welsh milk each year to make a wide range of cheeses for the retail and wholesale market.
“We are delighted to welcome James and Alec as members at South Caernarfon Creameries. Our farming members are at the heart of everything we do to create high quality cheese here in Wales and it is fantastic for us to be able to work together with them to help secure the future of dairy in Wales,” commented Alan Wyn Jones, managing director at South Caernarfon Creameries.