Bryan Watton milks 200 Holstein/Friesian cows with his son Mark on a totally self-contained farm near Ballybogey in North Co Antrim. The family was the first farming business in Northern Ireland to install milking robots.
“That was back in 1999,” Brian confirmed.
“We wanted to mark the new millennium by bringing the farm in a completely new direction. The robots have worked well for us over the past 20 years.
“The original system is still in place. In order to keep pace with the evolution of the technology we have updated the laser systems within the robots.
“We are currently producing 2,000L of milk at 4.42% butterfat and 3.36% protein per day using the robots.”
But investment across the business has been a constant feature of the Wattons’ approach to the development of their business.
An excellent example of this has been the recent construction of a bespoke calf rearing facility within a building that also accommodates machinery and grain storage facilities.
“All the calves born on the farm are kept, either as heifer replacements or reared through to beef,” Brian confirmed.
“So it’s important to give them the best possible start. The new building allows us to do exactly this.”
The Watton’s also decided to build a new wall, 60 metres in length and 8 feet high, adjacent to the yard and along the B62 road.
“We built the wall for a number of reasons. But increased privacy and security were well up our list of priorities,” said Bryan.
“The B62 is one of the main roads used by motorists travelling from Belfast to Portrush. We were also conscious that we grazed young bulls in the fields adjacent to the road. So lessening the opportunities for the animal to break out was another reason for going ahead with the wall.
The factor that links both projects was the use of precast wall panels, manufactured by Moore Concrete.
Bryan Watton again:
“The wall is not a fixed structure. The panels are attached to RSJs which are embedded in concrete. This means that the wall can be easily dismantled, if required.
“A total of 20 panels were used to build the wall with a further 40 used in the construction of the new shed. The building features the panels on all the walls: external and internal.
“We have worked with Moore Concrete for many years. What particularly attracted us to using the panels is the fact that they can be put in place within a very short space of time. They also come with a very high-quality finish. As a result, the amount of on-site works required to complete the construction of the various walls was minimal.”
Designed for speed of installation, Moore Concrete prestressed wall panels are supplied ready for immediate use. Wall panel systems offer significant time and cost savings over traditional methods. There is no need for foundations, as the panels can rest on the post foundation or on landing brackets.
Available in a choice of thickness, 100, 150, 200 and 250mm depending on the application. Each prestressed wall panel is manufactured to the highest quality standards and bear CE Marking.
Moore Concrete’s Jonny McKinney was a recent visitor to the Watton farm.
“Our panels are available in 600, 1000, 1200 and 1500mm heights. They are joined together using a tongue and groove system. The length of each panel can be adjusted to suit individual requirements,” he said.
“Moore Concrete panels can be used in the building of structural walls, silos and for livestock or general purpose buildings. The panels are supplied with a smooth finish, which can be easily cleaned.
“The wall panels are bolted to or slotted in between the RSJ units. Each panel has 2 sockets cast into the tongue to facilitate ease and speed on installation, substantially reducing labour costs. “