Meet The Waters family! Located in Crookstown Co. Kildare, this 330-herd dairy farm is run by Ger Waters, and his two sons John and Alex. The farm has been in the family name since the 1920’s. Keeping up with their fast-evolving Friesen Herd Farm, in 2019 The Waters built a new 11 Bay shed. They purchased EASYFIX Cubicles, Mats and Evolve Feed Rail to enhance cow comfort to increase their cattle’s productivity levels.
A strong agricultural background lead John and Alex to study Agricultural Science in Waterford Institute of Technology. The brothers brought fresh expertise to their farm and new ideas on how they could improve their farming practices. With all three of the Waters men sharing an interest in the farm, it meant for a divided workload and an easier farming set up.
Starting out with 20 cows in the 1980’s, to 180 in 2015 and now double the herd size today. The Waters family found themselves under pressure with the large herd size. They were unable to house the cattle under one roof, comfortably due to restricted shed space… The Waters were separating the herd for daily operations like feeding and milking- making duties more time consuming and labor intensive.
They noticed an increase in injuries rushing and hitting off the steel cubicles by cows in the herd. An increase in injury and stress levels meant a decline in their milk yield. These poor farming operations were the deciding factor for them to build a new shed. Being able to have their herd under the one roof was one element of this project, the main aim of this new build would be achieving maximum cow comfort, which they knew was paramount for their animal’s welfare in reducing risk of unnecessary injury in the future.
They visited many neighboring farms to get an insight into what they would require regarding bay sizes and dimensions etc. With a high costing project, The Waters shopped around and do their own research. John and Alex done their research on European Farms, as they have higher performance levels compared to Irish farms. Realizing that many of these farms had plastic cubicles installed, and in particular, EASYFIX Cubicles.
They recall seeing EASYFIX at The Ploughing Championships over the years and have admired the concept behind the flexible cubicle. Comfort and space were the main priority when changing from steel to plastic cubicles. They contacted EASYFIX and with the help of an Agent recommending products, it made this build more effective. By visiting several different farms with EASYFIX products installed they got a further insight how the cows performed around them. Ger and his sons were very impressed with what they saw!
Check out the video below where John and Ger explain to the EASYFIX team their reasons behind choosing these products.
“We went for the Jupiter Mat as there is a brisket board built in, positioning the cow perfectly when lying down.” says John.
Another note he makes: “The Rubber turn on the end of the cubicles reduce the injury in the cow as they are not hitting their ribs off the ends of the cubicles.” This was important for them as the animals were prone to injury as they travelled through the walkway with steel cubicles in place.
They kitted the shed out with EASYFIX Calm Cubicles and Jupiter Mattress in each cubicle. Along with the Cubicles and Mattress they installed The Evolve Feed Rail. John noted “They’re softer on the cow’s shoulders when stretching to eat as the barrier moves with them.”
The Open system allows cows to move their heads freely imitating their natural feeding behavior. There is no barrier overhead, so there is no restriction on them moving their head upwards.
There was a notable increase in the feed intake by almost 10% since installing the EASYFIX Feed Rail.
They installed Action Mats inside the feed rail to increase comfort because of the time the cows spend feeding everyday. “around 8-10 hours.”. The cow’s milk yield increased by 2 liters per day since the mats were installed.
The Waters noticed the confidence boost in the cattle walking on the rubber floors. “Now they head away for milking much quicker and calmer than before”. Ger has noticed cattle and bulls congregate on the cross overs more often also. Since installing these products, they noted how cows are more relaxed and spread evenly throughout the shed.
Speaking to AgriLand, Ger Waters commented on the increase in comfort of the animals.
“The difference I can see in the cows since moving into the new shed is huge. They’re more confident lying down and standing up because the EASYFIX cubicles are more forgiving than the old steel cubicles.”
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A focus on cow comfort was the main priority for The Waters family’s new build. From their research, they were aware of the benefits in increasing comfort for the animal. Ger Waters is confident they have achieved this and look forward to improving their herd with EASYFIX products making animal comfort possible!
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