Explore Dairy Housing and Design in 3D With CowPlan

"I started with SketchUp around 10 years ago when a builder introduced it to me as we were doing some work on our home in Bristol."

Ivor: Cow Plan

Ivor, it's over to you, take it away!

My name is Ivor Davey and I run Cow Plan Ltd (www.cowplan.com).  I grew up on a mixed farm in north Cornwall, and studied an agriculture and animal science degree.  

Rather than returning to the home farm, I started working with UK farmers and supplied cow housing equipment, including mattresses for cows and pillows (honestly).  

I have a passion for design and animal welfare and developed a reputation for cow comfort, attention to details and pretty plans.   I travelled extensively in this role throughout the UK, Europe and parts of the States.

A range of SketchUp models from Ivor’s previous projects.

In 2014 I set up CowPlan where I took on a dealership for my old company.  This meant I could also offer further products for the dairy sector and offer more consultancy and advice.  We offer key products to the South West UK dairy farmers.  It’s a niche market and most UK dairy farmers know of me now.  I’m also known as an independant milk robot specialist and love seeing technology being used increasingly in this sector.

Creating simple 3D models for clients meant Ivor could be involved in more developments.

I'm not CAD trained so I am self taught at all the 2D work we produce. This has not limited the opportunities and CowPlan now employs two CAD specialists as part of our small team.

Ivor: CowPlan

I started with SketchUp when a builder introduced it to me as we were doing some work on our home in Bristol.  This was around 10 years ago.  I love playing with graphics and realised how quickly I could learn this as a tool.  I’m not CAD trained so I am self taught at all the 2D work we produce.  This has not limited the opportunities and CowPlan now employs two CAD specialists as part of our small team.  

Slowly I started using Sketchup to draw cow housing equipment, from simple brackets to basic layouts. Now this has progressed to whole farm layouts, green field sites and multi-million pound developments.

CowPlan Robot barn – 3D concept video on straw yards

Love it! How do you service your clients and new developments using SketchUp?

We offer a 3D service to most larger projects, but the project does not alway warrant this level of work.  3D can offer so much to a project, however it is not always easy for my clients to see the benefit.  For example, planners find little benefit from a 3D image, over a standard 2D elevation drawing which we also produce.

The key to when Sketchup benefits seems to be when we are working with a larger team.  If it is a family business with many partners involved or on some large estates where the farm manager is reporting to bosses, agents, processors and retailers or even Earls it can be significantly beneficial.  We present as 3D images which are easy to export. We sometimes offer renderings, but not always.  

Normally I create many scenes and produce a fly through video.  I then edit to add details and music, titles and credits and share this via You-Tube or similar.  We have even presented on some larger projects by exporting to VR and showing off with the VR headset.  

Every model gets better, so the most recent is probably the most impressive.  This is still too early for me to present to the Sketchup community but keep posted on my social media feeds and you’ll see it soon.  One of the larger projects we worked on a couple of years ago was for Beckside Farm in the LakeDistrict UK.  They required a new rotary milking parlour and cow cubicle shed.  They are also prominent on Facebook with their local community.  This was a large development, in a local community, in an area of outstanding natural beauty.  The video helped them present to their community, planners and milk buyers and ensured planning was passed in 12 weeks (almost unheard of). This has been running as a new dairy for around 18 months now. 

To see more of Ivor & CowPlan’s work, 3D modelling designs and renders, you can find them on social media here:

So who is Ivor?


Our brand new SketchUp top trumps give you a speedy breakdown and the 411 on everything you need to know about Ivor…


From where he calls home in the digital design space, to his secret SketchUp power, you’ll find the ins and the outs of his SketchUp Journey here…


If you want to have a personalised SketchUp top trump made for you, email us at marketing@elmtec.co.uk and let’s get the ball rolling! 

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