Gadget-filled milking shed opens in Shepton Mallet

image captionThe new collars are able to monitor cows' health

A £1.3m milking shed that will test new technology in a bid reduce costs within the dairy industry has opened.

Shepton Mallet dairy farm in Somerset is testing technology such as robotic feed bins to improve feeding methods and collars that monitor cows' health.

It is one of the four agri-tech centres in the UK aimed at improving farming and turning agricultural innovation into commercial opportunities.

Farm manager Duncan Forbes said the collars mean "quicker intervention".

image captionThe robotic feed bins mean fresh feed is given to cows on a regular basis

The aim of the shed is to help make the dairy industry more efficient and cut down on costs.

It has a fabric roof which lets in natural light, and sensor-controlled blinds to help regulate the inside temperature.

The robotic feed bins mean fresh feed is given to cows on a regular basis rather than it being manually restocked.

Satellites also track the health and quality of the cows' grazing outside.

Mr Forbes said: "If you've got happy cows, they're much more likely to be healthy cows.

"A lot of the sensors on the cows keep track of their health: we're able to see much earlier signs of a cow not feeling well so we can intervene quicker and she gets better."

The Shepton Mallet project was set up by the Agri-EPI centre in Edinburgh, which focuses on agriculture and livestock.

The other centres are:

  • Agrimetrics centre in Harpenden which opened in 2015 to analyse data to make agriculture more efficient
  • Centre for Crop Health and Protection in Sand Hutton, York, to help farmers manage crop threats including pests and disease
  • Centre for Innovation Excellence in Livestock, also in York, for the livestock industry which aims to create new technology and products

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