TAKING?A?cow out to pasture will be a thing of the past for leading dairy farmer MacDonald Stevenson when his state-of-the-art free stall barn is up and running by next month.
The first of its kind on the island, the barn can accommodate up to 120 cows and will provide clean, sanitary facilities for cows which are “milking”, Stevenson says.
“The cows will never have to be in mud again,” he explained, as he pointed to a number of soft, padded beds laid out for each cow.
A proud Stevenson said the free stall barn had been 12 years in the making.
“This has always been my dream. I have been planning for this for about 12 years. I?started by accumulating equipment over time and there was a time when I had equipment stored in my shed for several years. This is a very substantial investment,” he stated.
The new enclosed barn will allow him to separate the manure, to recycle and compost.
He has built two ponds, using rainwater collected from the roof of the barn. The system will pump 3 000 gallons of water per day, which will automatically flush out the manure at intervals, keeping the barn spic and span at all times.
The manure will be transported to a manure separator which will “take off the solids” so that it could be used as compost while the water will be constantly recycled in the pond.
Stevenson, who has been involved in farming for more than 18 years, pointed out that when the barn is fully operational he would be producing three times more milk than normal.
“If you want to produce and do it effectively, this is what you have to do,” he said. “Last year, because of the dry season, my production dropped by 50 per cent, but this will create the right environment for the cows where you will never have to worry about heat. The cows will always be clean. They will not be standing in manure.”
The farmer also has in place equipment which he uses to wrap plastic around the hay to keep it moist and the nutrients intact.
And Stevenson is also looking to the future when he says he will be able to produce organic milk.
“This is environmentally friendly because of the recycling process and the green materials that I?have used,” he pointed out. “I will be using less water and the whole sanitation process will be greatly reduced. I?want to reach the stage where I?will be able to supply other farmers with fodder at a reasonable price.”
The dairy farmer said the operation had been delayed because he had to order two pulleys from overseas for the pump but he expected to have it fully operational by next month.