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Tradition and innovation make for profitable dairy farming in Cumbria

When Morris-Eyton & Son decided on expansion at their Cumbrian farm, Wolfenden Concrete were their chosen supplier – for quality, value and innovative products.

SupaStrong diagonal slates with 12tonne axle loading

The Morris-Eyton family have been farming in Cumbia for over 300 years and Beckside Farm is a family-operated group headed by Robert Morris-Eyton, with an expanding and diverse portfolio of enterprises including a dairy herd, a flock of 800 fell sheep, as well as a construction company which installs hydro electric schemes throughout Cumbria and North Yorkshire.

With 630 acres plus common grazing, the Beckside dairy herd of 250 cows was reliant upon a shed dating back to the 1960s and a milking parlour from the mid-nineties which was starting to show its age. Though updated, the old parlour was never going to be optimum to cow health, welfare and production. When considering investment in new facilities, the family decided to expand the dairy herd to 400, making it viable to put in a state-of-the-art Waikato rotary parlour and new cow housing facilities. Patrick Morris-Eyton, Robert’s son, explains,
“The Beckside herd is made up of home bred pedigree Holstein cows which produce 2.3 million litres of milk per year. Years of selective breeding have produced high type, high yield cattle and genomic testing allows us to be selective when choosing sires for AI, resulting in better quality, healthier cows. To maximise our investment, we decided to expand the herd and visited some of the best dairy facilities in the country to take advice to help us ensure the new facilities would be easy to use and efficient, with the welfare of the animals at the heart of the development.”

Beckside Farm put a tight timescale of 12 months on the project, from conception to milking, to ensure the winter housing would be ready for their in-calf heifers, and the herd expansion required a parlour which could milk 200 cows per labour unit per hour. Having researched all aspects of the project, they selected Wolfenden Concrete for design and supply of the infrastructure necessary to ensure a slurry system that would reflect the ambitious expansion and investment. Patrick details the reasons behind their choice,
“We chose Wolfenden for our concrete slat and slurry channels because they were able to assist with the design as well as the supply – their expertise was invaluable in advising us, here. One massive plus for us was the depth of Wolfenden’s SUPA channels – the internal channel, which was bigger than other suppliers’ products, for the same cost. The design of Wolfenden’s slats also allow them to have a higher weight carrying ability, which is very reassuring.”

SupaDeep slurry channels with intersections during installation

Richard Moody, managing director of Wolfenden, adds,
“This was an ideal project for us at Wolfenden, as we are always keen to get involved at the earliest stage possible, meaning we can bring added value through the Tekla structural engineering software we have to assist in design. And our new SUPA range is ideal for such projects as it was developed specifically with cow health and welfare at the forefront, and offers greater strength and capacity than our competitors’ products. With a tight schedule, with work commencing in March, we were delighted to be able to work with the team at Beckside to ensure than the 11 loads from Wolfenden meant that the cows could be milking in their new shed within six months.”

Considering the quantity of concrete and the number of loads involved in the new build, Patrick adds,
“Wolfenden were very easy to work with and the products came in regular shipments, which meant we didn’t have too much stock on site and left the build free from clutter – delivering what was needed when it was required. Any tweaks we wanted to make to the products, as the build progressed, were no problem at all for Wolfenden. I think this reflected one of the reasons we chose them – the advantages of a business that has a personal feel to it.”

Supplying over 100 mixed sized channel and slat arrangements, this is one of Wolfenden’s first projects where their new SUPA range has been specified, and the innovation of the range is proving its value to farms across the UK, where cow health and farm efficiency are both critical factors.

Beckside herd settling into their new cubicle shed