Pictured showing Arlene Foster the cowcoon product at the Balmoral Show is Andrew Wilson, Wilson Agri.
Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster has welcomed the launch of Wilson Agri’s innovative product to help dairy farmers improve cow comfort and increase milk output.
The Coleraine firm has designed and is now manufacturing a unique hybrid cubicle known as the cowcoon that makes housing dairy cows safer, cleaner and more comfortable by using High Density Polyethylene, to replace traditional steel components that can injure animals and are liable to corrosion.
The company has also launched a modern corporate identity as part of its strategic focus on growing business outside Northern Ireland.
Arlene Foster said: “Wilson Agri has established itself as among the most enterprising and innovative in the UK, Ireland and rest of Europe in terms of products for cow comfort and management, ventilation systems, gel-filled mattresses and the unique MoovApillow.
“This commitment to market-led innovation especially for global markets is in line with Invest Northern Ireland’s strategy of encouraging and assisting entrepreneurial businesses to develop smart products and services that have significant potential in the international marketplace.
“The company, in addition, is making a major contribution to the efficiency of the biggest sub-sector, dairying, within agri-food, now a crucially important industry to the local economy.”
Outlining the benefits of the new product, Mr Wilson said: “The cowcoon is the latest outcome of our longstanding focus on developing innovative products that substantially improve the environment for dairy cows in particular and contributes to much higher milk yields.
“What we have done is to introduce a more flexible yet ductile component in place of conventional galvanised steel where cows often settle against and can often lead to injury if an animal falls heavily in the stall. The component is also easier and cheaper for the farmer to replace. It acts as a sort of shock absorber reducing the load on fixings and virtually eliminates corrosion.
“We’ve been working on the cowcoon for four years, using our extensive knowledge of such systems and have now registered the highly innovative design for patent protection. Our research indicates significant potential locally and internationally, potential which we aim to harness by providing the product in a flat-pack format.
“The new cubicle has already been demonstrated to business contacts in Europe and has attracted extremely positive feedback.
“Invest NI has been immensely supportive offering assistance for a range of activities including R&D and marketing. It is helping us to realise our overall objective to provide a confined environment that emulates pasture, thereby gives today’s dairy cows and farmers the best qualities associated with both. These qualities are not only basic and vital to the cow’s ability to produce large amounts of milk, but also to her survival,” he added.
Formed in 1995 and currently employing 10 people, Wilson Agri has developed a broad portfolio of dairy cow housing, management, comfort and health products.
The support offered by Invest NI to Wilson Agri for R&D activities is part funded by the European Regional Development Fund under the Sustainable Competitiveness Programme for Northern Ireland.