Past Times: Experimental cowshed at Kergord
From The Shetland Times, Friday 27th January 1961
The results of an experiment which Mr R. D. Winton is now conducting on his farm at Kergord, Weisdale, should prove extremely interesting to all farmers and crofters in the islands.
In the building adjoining his spacious cowshed – its large windows and huge ventilators making it as different from the old-style byre as the latest coffee bar from “Ye Olde Tea Shoppe” – Mr Winton has installed the newest type of slatted floor, as approved by the North of Scotland College of Agriculture, and laid strictly according to plans drawn up by the college.
The floor itself is of elmwood, famous for its properties of strength and durability, and covers an area of about 250 square feet. Shaped in cross-section like a trapezium, the slats are four inches in depth and taper downwards from four inches to three inches. They are one and a half inches apart, and are supported underneath by nine four by half inch angle irons. But the most interesting point about the floor is that it is five feet above ground level and the muck which would normally lie on the floor falls onto the ground below where it can easily be removed through the large doors. This results in far less labour when the floor is cleaned – compared with pens with concrete floors.
But to the man who is thinking of erecting a new building for his animals the most interesting feature of this new floor is the fact the more animals can share the same floor space and by adopting this type of flooring the cost of the complete building would probably be less. And it is reported that the animals seem quite happy in their new surroundings – possibly because they need not be tethered and can wander about quite freely.
Another revolutionary feature is the animals’ feeding arrangements.
Above every feeding bin is an iron bar, about three feet from the ground. The animal is able to reach the fodder easily enough but is retrained from scattering the hay over the floor as it normally does for the bar prevents the animal jerking its head about. When the animal is thirsty it just helps itself from one of the push-button troughs on the walls.
In the event of the experiment proving a success – and every sign points in this direction – Mr Winton plans to erect an entirely new building for his herd incorporating the slatted floor. As yet Mr Winton’s experiment is unique is Shetland, but it may well be that in the near future other farmers in the islands will adopt this type of flooring as it obviously does have advantages over the ordinary variety. The two points which should appeal to famers is that they can keep more animals in the same space and that less labour is required in cleaning. In conclusion, if a cowshed is becoming overcrowded and the cost of a new building appears too costly, a slatted floor may be a worthwhile solution.