Dillington Farm

Ollie Blackburn
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About Dillington Farm

  • Joined the strategic dairy farm network in Autumn 2023
  • All-year-round calving
  • Fully housed robotic milking herd
  • Yields of 10,800 litres per cow with 4,000 litres from forage
  • 860 hectares used for grazing youngstock and growing forage for cows

Follow Dillington if you are interested in:

  • Evaluating the effectiveness of cross breeding
  • Starting or continuing your journey to net zero
  • Reducing your reliance on fertilisers and pesticides
  • Maximising cow and heifer performance


Knott Oak Dairy, a part of the Dillington Estate in Somerset, is home to 310 cross-bred cows. Ollie, the Farm Manager has worked with his team of 8 to implement changes to help the farm be more environmentally focused, through forage crops and home-grown feeds.

Our farm

Dillington Farms is mixed farming business with dairying at its heart. At 860 ha, the farm grows cereals and forage crops with dry stock grazing permanent pastures and parkland.

Being a part of a mid-tier stewardship scheme has allowed Dillington Farms to be more environmentally focused with their day-to-day farming, including growing herbal leys on arable headlands and experimenting with legume wholecrops.

Our herd

This all-year-round calving, fully-housed herd of 310 cows average 10,800 litres per cow per year at 4.20% butterfat and 3.56% protein. The cows at Dillington estate are milked using robots, helping them to gradually increase their milk yields, through allowing a more relaxed and quieter environment for the cows.

Crossbreeding has played a huge part in allowing Dillington to achieve high milk yields, through combining a three-way cross of Holstein, Norwegian Red, and Fleckvieh.

Our journey

Dillington Farms started as a smaller organic dairy farm, with more land being used for arable uses, such as growing potatoes. However, they moved away from organic dairying because the potatoes grown on the estate required a large landmass for rotation, which didn’t work with the amount of grassland needed for organic dairy farming. The wider Dillington Estate is used for growing a variety of cereals and forage crops the cows.

The dairy at Dillington Farms was built 6 years ago to help future-proof the farm. One of the biggest changes they made was introducing robotic systems to milk the cows. This change has helped the farm improve their cow welfare and create a good working environment for the staff.

Through the strategic dairy farm programme, Ollie and his team are looking to continue their journey to being net zero, fine-tune their crossbreeding and improve the profitability of the farm, whilst achieving their environmental goals.

“The programme is a great opportunity to work with different people from around the industry. The estate and our farming policies have changed massively over the last few years, and we are now very environmentally focused and trying to do things in a more sustainable way.

"While we feel that we may be doing things slightly differently to others, it is always good to be challenged in a positive way, and we can’t wait to share our experiences and learn from others.”

News and past events

  • Enhancing milk from forage with home-grown feed (May 2024) Two strategic dairy farmers, David from Newlands Farm and Ollie from Dillington Farm, discuss the improvements they made on-farm to increase the milk yield achieved from forage.

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