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CASE STUDY 3:   New build - Robot unit
Knott Oak Dairy - Dillington Farm, Illminster, Somerset
New robot unit
Knott oak dairy unit
Milk robot unit
Ridge ventilation design for new robot unit
Close up of side and bird screen on robotic dairy unit
Close up insulated roof on robotic dairy unit
Aerial view of new robotic milk unit


Ivor Davey started working with Dillington farm in early 2014, and it was a great opportunity to bring a team together with an aim to develop a new, state of the art, robotic dairy facility.  


Over several months, the plans were finalised for a new 6 robot unit, with 360 cows on robots and dry cow and maternity area.  The aim was for a high welfare dairy unit, with vermin free, optimal production environment.

Ivor Davey, from CowPlan, aimed for around 10 square metres per cow, which resulted in 5.03m double beds, and 3.68m internal passages and 4.572m feed passages.  The cubicles are at 1.2m centers which are perfect for the breed and type of cows at Knott Oak dairy.

The decision was for a free access unit using Lely milk robots.

We opted for an insulated roof in order to control the heating in the summer and avoid condensation in the winter.  This, with open sides and a 'chimney' design full length ventilated ridge, optimises natural ventilation, and creates a great environment for the cows.

Construction work:

The building work started in August 2014, with the first cows being milked by May 2015.  the final unit was complete by August 2015.


We installed Wilson Ag Cowcoon flexible cubicles, with Pasture Mat mattresses complete with the 30mm premium pad foam and pillow brisket barriers.  We also installed the AquaTip green drinkers with over 12cm per cow water access.

As a management tool, we installed Wilson Ag self locking feed barriers throughout, and use Lely Juno robots in order to push the feed up.

The far end is clad with vent air sheets, and the sides with bird screen at 3m above a 1m panel. In corporation with roller doors, this has created a well ventilated,  badger and bird proof building.

We also installed a LDLP (long day light period) lighting system using AgriLux SON lights on timers and lux sensors.

Behind the robots and in the area close to the dry cows, we installed mattress floors for attention cows or calving facilities.

Comfortable cow in CowPlan cowcoon cubicles with Pasture Mat mattresses and 30mm premium pad foam and poly pillow brisket barrier  #comfycows
Cowcoon cubicles and Pasture Mat mattresses with green bedding
Milk robot unit - comfortable cows
Design allowing tip over drinkers and robotic scrapers to work together
Cows feeding in robotic milk unit using self locking barriers
Cowcoon cubicles and Pasture Mat cow mattresses in a milk robot unit.
Comfortable cows by CowPlan
Milk robots - Lely
Milk robot unit by CowPlan.

Time-lapse video study - this video shows 1 second = 1 minute and is of the Dillington Farm milk robot unit.

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