Howell Richards, Cwrt Malle, Carmarthenshire

Large Welsh dairy onto third Shelbourne feeder

For Camarthenshire dairy farmer Howell Richards, based at Cwrt Malle, opting for a Shelbourne feeder wagon is now a routine rather than a choice it seems. Now on his third machine, a 25 cubic metre Powermix Express, Mr Richards has run another identical-sized Shelbourne feeder, and previous to that a 22 cubic metre version. This is based on a policy of changing every two years, as feeders on the 1,800-head unit work every day of the year without fail.Howell Richard Pictures 054

“We run these machines hard and they must work all year round,” says Mr Richard. “To this extent, we have stuck with Shelbourne feeders as they are a good firm and offer seven days a week backup, which is important to us.” Milk is supplied to Freshways Dairies in London, with levels nearing 10,000 litres per cow. “We would like more but it is important to have happy animals,” indicates Mr Richards.

The 1,600 milking Holsteins (with 200 dry animals) are spread across two farms in the Carmathenshire countryside, and with road work between them, ease of transport is always a must. Feeding rations consists of maize, grass silage, straw and blends, with up to 6 loads per day for the milking cows and one for the drys. The business covers 1,150 acres of grass with 300 to 400 under cropping for maize and grass silage, harvested by a local contractor.

Milkers receive the same rations, but drys tend to receive just grass silage and chopped straw. Using a wireless display in the loading JCB, operators know exactly what is going into the feeder, and the DigiStar system is said be very accurate for each load mixed.Howell Richard Pictures 055

Feeding is carried using a 128hp Kubota M128 tractor, which may seem a little small for the size of the feeder, but by all accounts it handles the bulk well. “We don’t overfill and will have around 10 or 12 tonnes in each load,” Mr Richards points out. “Power requirement for these machines is low anyway, and mix quality is good and straw chopping is enough for what we need to help with rumination of the animals.”

Working in cubicles and loose areas, the Powermix Express is found to be ideal for a multitude of tasks. The left/right shift conveyor finds favour here as a feature which enables the machine to adapt to where it is, and also feed into troughs.

Equipped with a non-steering axle and manual hydraulics, the Welsh-based machine is by no means overcomplicated. “We keep it simple,” Mr Richards comments. “We buy big machines to do less trips, which are quicker to load and mix in less time.”

So will another big Shelbourne remain in Wales? The answer is likely a yes given the reliability and mixing qualities of the current and previous Shelbourne machines, aiding in the expansion of this enterprising unit.

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