Wilson Agri LTD, Coleraine, Northern Ireland, made history in 1994, by becoming the first in Europe to sell cow mattresses.
From humble beginnings, this month marks the firm’s 25th anniversary of its transition into selling cow mattresses and its focus on cow comfort.
The company was founded in 1984 by John Wilson, who began selling animal feed off the back of his contract calf rearing business; he contract reared approximately 1,000 calves annually.
“Our vision is to be a pioneering force in the development of everything that improves the cows’ comfort & welfare in the dairy building.” John’s son, Gareth, who is the general manager of the company, told That’s Farming.
Wilson Agri LTD specialises in cow cubicles and cow mattresses with leading products including Cowcoon, which was a finalist in the RABDF Livestock & Machinery equipment awards in 2012 and 2014, C50 cubicles, Pasture Mat mattress, Dairy Grip Rubber for walkways and a range of gates and feed barriers.
All products are developed through intensive video research in the dairy; these videos are shot in real-time, slow motion at time-lapse recordings.
“These videos let us see what the naked eye cannot and aids us with pin-point precision to see where there is room for improvement and what actually works. Thus, our company social media hashtag, #cowschoose.” Gareth added.
The company’s target market is primarily dairy farmers who are focused on marginal gains in their business and the outcome this has on their cows’ welfare and profitability.
The UK and Ireland are their domestic market; however, they regularly supply their products to; Sweden Italy, Holland, Indonesia, Canada, Japan, the USA and Hungary.
Focus on cows
“For us, it’s all about the cow - you cannot force milk out of cows, you can only create an environment in which they can thrive.”
“In this, our research into reaching further and improving the cow’s comfort is a never-ending process.”
“Our cow cubicles and mattresses are constantly evolving to exceed the expectations of our customers.”
Furthermore, the Coleraine-based business is currently involved with five different dairy research facilities throughout Europe in a “process of challenging and confirming beliefs about cow comfort”.
“We are the only cow mattress producer in the UK & Ireland - the majority of our sales are direct with our sales personnel.”
“This way we can ensure that the cow comfort message is not diluted nor compromised.” the general manager added.
The firm employs twenty staff, which allows them to offer a complete service from planning a farmer’s dairy to the completed installation of products. “One of our tag lines is: Happy Cows = Happy Farmers and another is: if cows could talk, they would choose.” Gareth outlined.
“We recently won the agri-business of the year award in the Causeway Coast and Glens Business awards whilst also being a finalist in the family business of the year award.”
The firm’s research and development department’s criteria for future products is focused on marked improvements in cow comfort with affordable budgets for farmers at the fore.
Wilson Agri LTD recently partnered with Agricow in Italy who will be distributing its Cowcoons; its Cowcoons have been successful in Japan where the Government is subsidising dairy expansions with a 50% grant.
With a view to increasing its presence, the company has just returned from its second world dairy expo in Madison, and also attended Euro Tier in Germany in 2017.
“Next week we will be at Agriscot in Edinburgh but the highlight ahead of us this year is the Winter Fair in Balmoral Park, Northern Ireland,” Gareth concluded.