For 25 years, Jim milked his 160 cows though a traditional 20/20 herringbone parlour but 25 years is a lot of wear and tear so he had a decision to make for the future of the farm. The decision really came when Jim's son Matthew completed his course at Harper Adams and returned to the family farm with a real desire for a future in milk production. So with Matthew on board, the Thomas's set about researching parlours to find the best solution for their needs and future expansion plans.
Every farmer has different criteria when selecting a new parlour but for Jim and Matthew it was really important to have the best possible working environment in order to attract and retain the best herdsmen. After much deliberation, they selected the Fullwood Index 90 - a rapid exit 90 degree 15/15 parlour. And it wasn't just a new parlour, the Thomas's have created a whole new dairy unit on a greenfield site complete with collecting yard and backing gate, offices, handling facilities, chemical store, dairy, hospital area and staff shower and toilet facilities.
Only six months into milking through the new parlour, Jim and Matthew could already see the benefits on the new Fullwood equipment. The variable speed pump and the heat exchanger not only conserve energy but are also extremely quiet, another big plus when trying to create an enjoyable working environment. In addition, the Fullwood herd management system, Crystal, is really helping the day to day task with indication of cow activity levels, segregation and milk conductivity. Any potential problems are highlighted early, so cows can be given immediate attention.
The new parlour has improved working conditions enormously, made managing the herd a whole lot easier and Jim and Matthew can milk an extra 30 cows per hour. Things are looking very positive for the Thomas's and plans to expand the herd further are underway with numbers already up to 230.