Impressive dairy building wins the Royal Welsh 2017 Farm Buildings Competition

7 July 2017

An impressive clear span dairy unit has won the 2017 Royal Welsh Agricultural Society’s Farm Buildings and Works Competition.

The competition, kindly sponsored by Harrison Clark Rickerbys Limited and confined to farms in Carmarthenshire, the society’s feature county for this year, sought the best energy efficient and environmentally sensitive dairy building or unit in Carmarthenshire.

“This year’s entries demonstrated careful planning and commitment to significant capital investment in the future of their respective farm businesses.” said judges, Richard Ellis, Colin V J Pugh FRAgS and David Henderson MRICS. “The buildings and facilities entered in the competition were of a high standard throughout.”

“The entries are excellent examples of modern dairy cow housing, combining good design and construction, with good attention to detail. The similarities between the entries were significant and each had a very similar story to tell. It was no easy task for us to decide on a winner for this year’s competition. Following careful consideration, and with particular reference to the competition theme, we decided Messrs A W & J L Thomas from Abergwili, Carmarthen were worthy winners.”

The building entered for the competition by Messrs Thomas comprises of a single 320ft long x 134ft clear span building providing cow cubicle accommodation for up to 500 cows, plus 30/60 herringbone milking parlour, collecting yard, cow handling facilities, bank of calf pens, office and plant room. Completed in 2012 using local contractors, the building is of galvanised steel portal frame construction with 22 ½ degree roof pitch with overhanging eaves and corrugated fibre cement roof sheets on galvanised z- purlins.

The cubicle building layout is arranged with one bank of head to head cubicles and one bank of single cubicles repeated each side of a central feeding passage running the full length of the building. Slurry is stored in slatted below ground chambers under all circulation areas between cubicles, including the collecting yard area. The chambers provide up to five months slurry storage, with slurry being agitated with externally located slurry guzzlers operating on Economy 7 electricity.

Cows are bedded on sawdust over concrete, with cow comfort cubicle divisions. The cubicle building has sensor controlled ventilation screens to both sides backed with fixed mesh screening, installed down to cubicle bed level. This, combined with a continuous open ridge with rain water catch tray beneath, provides excellent ventilation, resulting in an open, light and airy environment for the livestock.

The milking parlour is a 30/60 unit herringbone arrangement with in-parlour feeding of concentrates. The parlour is finished to a high standard, with easily cleaned surfaces to floors and walls using recycled washing water. Handling facilities are alongside the parlour with unobstructed passages allowing easy cow movement. The slatted floor collecting yard is incorporated within the cubicle housing.

The design and layout concentrates on the efficient use of labour and, where possible, energy. The use of energy saving pumps, rainwater capture, 3-phase motors and the efficient management of slurry, all combine to ultimately save energy used to drive labour and machinery.

The winner 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 25 July at the Royal Welsh Show.