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News feature 12 December 2013


Grasslandsociety enjoys a successful anniversaryyear T

HE biggest grasslandsociety in Wales has ended its 40th anniversary year on ahigh,

with another successful AGM. As well as the usual election of

officers and presentation of awards, North Pembrokeshire Grassland Society’sAGMalso included reports about trips to Yorkshire and Aus- tralia to learnmore about the latest in dairy technology. The society’s first female chair-

man, JoySmith, reported onahuge- ly successful 40th year programme, including the trip to Yorkshire, where members visited abusiness with visions of becoming the most successful integrated animal breed- ing and farming companyin Europe. The business is alreadyone of the

largest private,family-owned farm- ing companies in Britain, witharep- utation forproducing and market- ing high yields of quality produce and livestock. Founded just over 50 years agothe companyhas an annual turnover of more than £20 million and employs more than 220 staffinits three core businesses–arablefarming, pig pro- duction and genetics. The arableside of the business is

fullyunderpinned by technical, marketing, financial and adminis- tration support, and includes 16,000 acres –either owned or tenanted by the company, or farmed forclients under afarm management agree- ment –growing avariety of crops including cereals,oilseed rape,vin- ing peas,sugar beet, potatoes,and onions. The pig 18 units,whichinclude

the UK’s largest pig genetics base, has 7,800 breeding sows producing 150,000 breeding and slaughter pigs annually, sustained by aresearch base dedicated to customer service, veterinary health monitoring and technical support. Other visits on the five-daytour

included aunit where three broth- ers,who had previouslyowned 100,000 acres in Russia, are now farming 2,600 acres,running adairy herd of 900 pedigree Holsteins with anannual lactation yield of 9,600kgs. As well as dairy farms,members visited acheese plant and anumber of livestockbreeders,including a 2,000 head beef unit dedicated to using stabilizer bulls and finishing all stockatgrass. The society’s member of the year award went toRoger Jones,ofTreni-

chol, who also wonthe baled silage award. Will Prichard, Escalwen and Gerwyn Williams,Swmbarch,won the grasslandaward, while the prize fornew leyswent to Christopher and Jonathan James,ofTrefaner at Trevigan. The clamped silage award was

wonbyTim and William James, Farthing’s Hook, and the milk pro- duction award wasshared between Roger Ridgway,Clovers Farm and JeffEvans,Broadmoor. Meurig Harries,ofTrefgarn

Owen Farm waselected as the soci- ety’s newchairman, with Peter Smith, of Pelcomb Hill as vice-chair- man. Secretary,CherylCodd, and treasurer,Dyfrig Davies,were re- elected and delegates reappointed were Neil Perkins,ofDinas Island Farm to the British Grassland Soci- ety, and JeffEvans,Broadmoor to the Welsh Federation, of whichheis the current chairman.

SOCIETY FIRST: (left) Joy Smith was the first female chairman of the North Pembrokeshire Grassland Society, which celebrated its 40th anniversary this year. She presented the awards at the society’sAGM, including (above) the milk production trophy to Roger Ridgway, of Clovers Farm, Letterston.

Australian trip offers aglimpse into the future of dairyfarming

WILL Prichard used abursary from the society’s RexPatterson fund to see some of the latest dairy technology being applied in Australia. Will visited the world’s first

proto-type commercial robotic milking rotary parlour,presently being unveiled by Swedish dairy equipmentcompany, de Laval, at an all grass pilot farm with 1,300 cows in Tasmania. The technology has been devel-

oped by the FutureDairy project in Australia, acollaboration between de Laval, Dairy Australia, NSW Department of Primary Industries and the University of Sydney. Featuring five robots,the rotary

DUAL ROLE: North Pembrokeshire Grassland Society member Geoff Evans, who is also chairman of Wales Federation of Grassland Societies.

PICTURES: Meyrick Brown.

can milkupto 90 cowsper hour,and is based on 24-unit internal, her- ringbone rotary thatenables the robots to reachthe cowfromthe side.With the use of laser technolo-

gy,the robots focus red light to determine the location of the cow’s teats,clean them and attachthe cups. The first tworobots clean and

prepare the teats formilking, the second twoattachthe cups to the teats,and the last robot sprays the teats to disinfect them before the cows leave the platform. Design of the dairy yard plays an

importantrole in the operation, with aseries of smaller yards,divid- ed by automatic gates known as smart selection gates,whichcan guide cows in twoorthree different paths after the milking. The cows wear automatic identi-

fication collars or transponders, and when the cows approachthe smart selection gates,the system reads the transponder and guides the cowinthe direction set in the herd management software.

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