First Welsh Strategic Dairy Farm Announced

Tuesday, 18 June 2019

Rhual Dairy in Flintshire has been named as our first strategic dairy farm in Wales.

Run by John and Anna Booth as part of a shared farming partnership, Rhual Dairy is an all-year-round-calving herd with 336 Holstein Friesian cows.

By becoming a strategic dairy farm, Rhual Dairy will host on-farm events, sharing best practice as well as technical and financial performance against AHDB’s key performance indicators for all-year-round-calving herds.

On joining the strategic dairy farm network, John Booth said: “We were really pleased to be asked to be the first strategic dairy farm for Wales.  We are hoping that by becoming a strategic farm, it will enable us to pay more attention to key performance indicators and help us achieve our business goals through listening to other farmers and other industry professionals.”

John and Anna Booth both graduated from Harper Adams in 1997 where they studied Agriculture with Animal Science.  John became an assistant farm manager on an estate and Anna became a dairy specialist for an independent dairy company. In 2001 they decided to move up from Dorset to Mold to start a share farming partnership with John’s Dad and the neighbouring farm, Rhual Farm Partnership.

The share farming partnership started with 250 dairy cows producing an average of 7,200 litres per cow per year and now currently milk 336 cows, producing an average of 8,400 litres per cow per year. They aim to increase milk yield, litres produced from forage, improve transition cow management and reduce antibiotic usage, all of which will be covered in their on-farm meetings.

Anna said: “We installed a new parlour in 2006, along with a slurry store, which gave us the opportunity to increase cow numbers and help us achieve our target of lifting cow yields to over 9,000 litres per cow. 

“We also found becoming a member of the discussion group The Udder Group helps us focus more on the cost of production through benchmarking.

“Over the last 12 months, we have improved our transition and calving cow housing, along with renewables in the form of solar PV and thermal, which will hopefully help us improve our performance, along with cow comfort.”

Rhual Dairy is the first strategic dairy farm to be recruited in Wales as part of the Dairy Improvement Programme, which is funded through the Welsh Government Rural Communities – Rural Development Programme 2014-2020.

Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs Minister, Lesley Griffiths, said:  “AHDB’s Strategic Farms initiative will have long term benefits for the Welsh dairy industry and in particular at a challenging time as we prepare to leave the European Union.  I am therefore delighted Rhual Dairy in Flintshire has become the first Strategic Farm in Wales.

“Strategic Farms complement our Farming Connect services to provide greater opportunities for farmers to learn from each other and showcase best practice.  This will help our dairy farmers become more efficient and reduce their costs by producing more milk from forage and reducing the impact of disease.”

Gwyn Jones, Chairman of AHDB’s Dairy Sector Chairman added ‘We are delighted to launch the first of what will be many strategic dairy farms across Wales. Welsh Government should be commended for supporting this important initiative that will empower farmers to collaborate and improve efficiency by learning from each other’.

Rhual Dairy will be hosting their first on-farm event on 26 June where they will give an overview of their farm, including a tour, as well as sharing their current technical and financial performance and how they plan to improve.

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