A Pembrokeshire dairy farm has reduced pressure on labour and improved grassland management since creating an underpass to link farmland straddled by a busy road.

The Morris family have increased cow numbers at Bowett Farm, Hundleton, from the 90 they milked in 2003 to the 450 now in the autumn calving British Friesian x Holstein herd.

Expansion increased pressure on grazing so 80 acres of farmland was brought into the rotation to allow all 300 acres of the farm’s land block to be grazed when cows are at grass for the 180-200 day grazing period.

But those fields are separated from the farm’s main land block by a busy road and walking the cows across that road took up to 15 minutes, creating hostility from motorists and stress for the Morrises and their staff.

Even though cow flow was stopped at intervals to let motorists through, drivers were becoming less tolerant as cow numbers grew, admits Richard Morris, who farms with his wife Claire, and parents Bill and Ann.

Three people were needed to cross the cows and this was a problem at weekends when there were fewer staff.

The problem was solved with a road underpass linking the two blocks.

“We decided that if we were to continue running this system we needed to be more helpful to the public and also ease pressure on labour,’’ Mr Morris explains.

The family hired an architect and planning consultant with good experience of designing farm underpasses; securing the necessary permissions and road closures was straightforward.

The job of constructing the underpass was given to a local contractor who had built them on other farms.

The entire project cost the business around £76,000.

There was only one setback during construction – a major water pipe thought to be some distance from the site was discovered running through the it. Rerouting it added £6,000 to the costs and slowed the job down.

The underpass is 3m wide and 2.4m high and was built over 10 days in May 2019.

The cows mostly pass through it in single file because they are released from the 54-point rotary parlour after they have been milked.

“Building the underpass is one of the best things we have ever done,’’ says Mr Morris.

“The cows are very relaxed going out to grass and we now only need one person to move them to and from grazing, not three.

“We can manage the farm a lot better because we can graze the blocks when they need grazing, not when people are available to cross the road.’’