USA style cow barn wins the Royal Welsh 2019 Farm Buildings Competition

16 Gorffennaf 2019

A top-quality cow barn and associated slurry handling and storage facilities has won the 2019 Royal Welsh Agricultural Society’s Farm Buildings and Works Competition.

The competition, kindly sponsored by Harrison Clark Rickerbys Solicitors and confined to farms in society’s feature county for this year, Pembrokeshire, sought the buildings which are part of the farm set up and fit for the future.

“Innovation, improvement, investment and infrastructure best sum up the four farms shortlisted for this year’s competition in Pembrokeshire and on all four farms it was encouraging to see the younger generations taking a leading role in future proofing their family businesses for the future.” commented judges, Colin V J Pugh FRAgS, Huw Prichard and Aled & Helen Worthington (2018 winners).

“After a full and enjoyable day visiting four top-quality farm units came the difficult time to make a decision, but after some discussion we decided to award the first prize to Marc Allison, Sychpant, Rhoshill, Cardigan for his cow barn and associated slurry handling and storage facilities which in turn resulted in excellent cow performance.”

Marc is a very progressive young farmer and has made good use of several recent technical initiatives whilst at the same time increasing his herd size from 130 cows to 300. His attention to detail of cow comfort and nutrition has raised his herd average yield to 10,500 kgs and at the same time reduced his antimicrobial usage down to 5mg PCU way below the UK average of 26mg PCU.

Key to achieving these figures was the construction in 2013/14 of a new USA inspired cow barn incorporating sand bedded cubicles, wide loafing alleys with a water flushing system, controlled ventilation and UV and IR reflective cladding for natural light but reducing heat build-up in the bird proof barn. 

Sand can be a nightmare for effluent systems and machinery, but Marc’s system relied on gravity separation of the sand through a series of channels where the sand remained and the slurry floated on into the lagoon. The sand was then dug out with a loader and spread on the land acting as a manure and soil conditioner. Sand usage for rebedding the cubicles worked out at around 60p per cow per week and the judges were impressed by the cleanliness of the cows still housed since calving last Autumn, which were spotless.

Renewable energy was provided by a wind turbine and solar panels on the roof, along with many other small technical improvements.

Marc will be presented with the Peniarth Estate Silver Trowel, given by the late Col J F Williams-Wynne CBE DSO MA FRAgS and a certificate on Tuesday 23 July at the Royal Welsh Show.