A family affair for the Hewitt team sees the success of Roadhead Farm, located in the outskirts of Biggar, South Lanarkshire, milk 1000 cows through a rotary parlour.

The Hewitt family consisting of Geoff and Aileen, and children, Kerry, Fraser as well as Adam, who is now stepping up to deal with some of the management and day to day running of the farm, installed their new parlour five years ago.

Another new establishment at Roadhead has been the six purpose-built calf sheds which each house 50 calves. Calving around 100 cows each month, means filling two houses per month. When a calf is born, it is fed with the automatic mixer milk trolly. The calves are all fed this way until day 10 when they are then introduced the Lely Calm Automatic Feeder.

Lely introduced the Lely Calm automatic calf feeder, which supplies the correct portion and concentration of feed spread over the day, resembling the natural behaviour of the calf.

"The calm calf feeder offers the calves a strong start in life, while saving time and many economic benefits to include quicker growth rates, individual calf management and weaning without stress," explained Geoff, who installed the Lely Calm Feeders in March.

As soon as a calf enters a milk station, it is recognised by its electronic transponder and, according to the calf’s feeding plan, the Lely Calm calf feeder decides if it is allowed to drink, and how much. A minimum and maximum portion of milk per visit can be set for each calf, then the calf feeder will automatically determine the ration per calf. If the calf is indeed allowed to drink, the calf feeder immediately prepares a fresh portion of milk at the predetermined temperature.

The Lely Calm cleans itself automatically resulting in better machine hygiene and can be improved further by installing extra options such as the fly protection screen or anti-moisture element.

At Roadhead the youngstock are cared for by the able team of Katie Brown and May Allan, who ensure the youngstock have the best start to life and keep all the machines performing to their full potential each day.

Within each of the six calf sheds, a Lely Calm feeder is installed. Once a calf has entered a shed, it will stay there for approximately two weeks. This shed will then be cleared, and calves moved into the next stage. With this routine, it ensures each calf shed is cleaned and disinfected fully. This promotes good health for the calves with low infection rates.

“We decided to build the six houses rather that one large house, this way we can clean the full shed and have less bacteria build up, reducing illness in calves," added Geoff, with each calf being on 145g of milk powder per litre.

At Day 7 they are drinking on average 5-7litres, at 21 days they are on 7 litres and then after a further 21 days, they begin to wean the calves reducing from 7 litres down to zero.

“The calves adapt really well to the machines, we rarely have any issues with them," said Geoff.

The Lely Calm can be connected to Lely’s T4C advanced management programme, giving a clear overview and ease of control of all calves through a PC. It also allows to generate reports and graphs of milk rations per calf.

Alongside the dairy enterprise, Geoff manages his own agricultural feed business, Roadhead Farm Feeds, so is keen to performance check the range of Roadhead milk powders through his new Lely Calm machines. Namely Roadhead Excel Blue, Roadhead Creamline or Roadhead Gold.

“We have always used our own stock for any feed and performance trials, obtaining first hand results for ourselves which is beneficial for us to continually improve and promote our feed and milk ranges," said Geoff.

The calves at Roadhead are started on the ‘Roadhead Calf Crunch’ blend from Day 1. This is a coarse calf mixture formulated to feed baby calves from 0-12 weeks which are being reared on milk powder or cow’s milk.

This mixture is fed on an ad-lib basis to all calves at Roadhead Farm until two weeks after they are weaned which normally occurs around 8-10 weeks old. Post weaning the calves remain in their straw bedded pen and are fed Roadhead Pioneer 16 blend. A fortnight after weaning they are moved to calf cubicles and fed a TMR ration.