James Hill is a Dairy Farmer, based in Hoylandswaine in South Yorkshire, ‘across the pond’. He is the fourth generation on his home farm, now working alongside his parents, John and Valerie. They keep a 120 Holstein Friesian Dairy Herd on their 400-acre farm. They operate a grass and arable system which is fed back to the animals in the winter months on the farm.
In 2018, James and his wife, Alex came back to the family farm to join his parents, John and Valerie. James’ main focus is in the dairy farming operation with his parents working on the grass and arable operations.
Coming back to work on the family farm, James had different ideas from traditional Dairy Farming methods. He wanted to be able to enjoy farming, but also create a life where it wasn’t solely devoted to the farm. Investments were made on this farming enterprise with the installation of two Lely Astronaut Robots and EASYFIX Cow Freestalls and Cow Mattresses. He is a firm believer in animal welfare and making use out of the latest advancements in agricultural technology.
Originally the Hill’s cattle were kept on Loose Housing, unfortunately, they were prone to Mastitis. Their vet bills were huge, ranging from £6-800 per month! An increase in straw and other bedding costs was also another determining factor that something needed to change in this farming enterprise. They were using up to 4 bales a day on housing alone.
James undertook some research to see what would best suit their Holstein Friesian Herd. This is when he came across EASYFIX. ‘They came from Loose Housing and needed somewhere to lay comfortably without damaging themselves’
He made the decision to go with EASYFIX Freestalls due to their flexibility and safety. They suit their large cows and allow them to lie freely and remain comfortable. The unrestricted lunge space allows the cows to easily manoeuvre within the freestall without hurting themselves. Comfort and Welfare were at the core of his decision-making process.
The EASYFIX Cow Mattresses were vital for the comfort of the cows. These cows were kept on straw bedding, so James knew the mats would need to have the comfort and warmth the herd were used too when kept on loose housing.
“I sat on a mat and thought, if its good enough for me, it’s good enough for the cows!”
Going from loose housing to now being in a Freestall barn, James feared maybe the cows wouldn’t be comfortable– but within two weeks of having the cubicles and mattresses installed, all the cows were lying in them, comfortably! ‘Cows are flat out in a world of comfort; I don’t think you’d see that in a steel cubicle’
As part of his barn build in 2019, he installed two Lely Robots to free up the long hours involved with milking cows. James noticed the increase in Milk Yields since investing in the Lely Robotic Milker, so much so he is looking into purchasing a third robot. James immediately noticed an increase of visits to the robots after putting the freestalls in. The cows were much comfier.
“Increase in visits to the robots since putting the cubicles in went from 2.7 to 3.2 times a day and the milk yields have gone up with it too”
Check out the video below to see James Hill chat to EASYFIX about his experience using our products.
As we know James is a real advocate and believer in comfort and welfare of the animal. They are extremely passionate about creating a self-sufficient farm and producing sustainable low-food mileage with high quality milk.
As part of their new venture and investment, James and Alex Hills recently launched their new business, Milk from the Hills. This is a vending machine where consumers come and fill up their reusable glass bottles with farm fresh milk, straight from their farm shop in Hoylandswaine. The milk is gently pasteurised and non-homogenised sold in glass bottles. Making them both sustainable and refillable! This is a fun, unique way of selling their produce, keeping in their wishes of sustainability and low food mileage! They also supply their fresh milk to dairy manufacturers in Yorkshire, producing milk products such as Cheese, Yoghurt and more.
Keep up with ‘Milk from the Hills’ here on Instagram.
All in all, James is pleased with his investment in EASYFIX Dairy Housing Products. Injuries have been almost eliminated, no more weekly vet visits. ‘The mastitis was like turning off a tap’. Bedding costs were greatly reduced, going from four bales of straw a day to only using a third of a bale per day.
He is already thinking about putting in more EASYFIX Freestalls for the dry cows, ‘I wouldn’t have changed anything different’
“The straw usage, the comfort, the welfare, the contentness and calmness in the cows. The visits coming into the robots. The serious reduction in mastitis, it speaks for itself.”
If you would like more information on the EASYFIX Dairy Housing Solutions mentioned throughout please do get in touch!