Three new Strategic Dairy Farms

Friday, 26 April 2024

Three dairy farms – from Wiltshire, Cheshire and Derbyshire, respectively – will join our Strategic Dairy Farm programme and will hold on-farm launch events in May.

Over the course of three years, they will share their knowledge and experience to help other farmers learn from one another.

The aim is to give farmers the confidence to explore new ideas and adopt change in their own businesses.

The farms will be supported by a steering group, made up of local farmers and advisors, who will help them identify challenges and set goals and activity over the course of the programme.

Wolfhall Farm

Launching on 15 May 2024.

Herd Manager Anthony Mitchell and Farm Owner Tom Blanchard run a 600-cow, crossbred herd on a split-block calving system, yielding approximately 6,000 litres per cow, at 4.8% butterfat and 3.7% protein.

The autumn block is served mainly to sexed semen, with beef semen only used in the spring block. Beef calves are reared to six months of age before being sold as stores.

The 600 ha farm, located in Wiltshire, has a 175 ha grazing platform with grass, maize, fodder beet and lucerne grown to support the dairy. Wheat, barley and oilseed rape are also grown.

At the launch, Anthony and Tom will be discussing the breeding decisions they made for this farm and why the farm is changing from a spring-calving-dominated split block to an autumn-dominated split block system.

We will also be exploring how the flexible approach they have to forage crops has maximised grazing days.

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Wolfhall farmers Anthony (left) and Tom (right)

Curtis Hulme Farm

Launching on 21 May 2024.

Cheshire farmers Dave and Caroline Williams run a herd of 450 cows on an all-year-round calving system.

The cows are a three-way cross of Holstein-Friesian, Norwegian Red and Montbelliarde cattle. They yield approximately 8,800 litres per cow, at 4.2% butterfat and 3.4% protein.

The farm is made up of 540 acres, 240 acres of which is owned, 200 rented and the rest is contract farmed, growing maize, wheat, barley and grass with white clover leys.

Through joining the Strategic Dairy Farm programme, Dave and Caroline want to look at soil mapping on their farm and increase herd productivity, with the feedback from a steering group and from local farmers that they will be hosting during their on-farm meetings.

The launch will offer a great opportunity for farmers to learn about why Dave and Caroline decided to crossbreed their cows and the future of their breeding decisions, calf management protocols and the long-term visions of the farm.

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Curtis Hulme farmers Dave and Caroline with their children

Rough Grounds Farm

Launching on 23 May 2024.

Farmers Graham and Justine Worsey run a herd of 260 cows on a split-block calving system with their daughter Jess and a recently established equity share agreement with Dan Jones.

The cows are crossbred with Jerseys and Friesians to help the cows benefit from better butterfat and protein while maintaining good overall health.

They yield approximately 6,500 litres per cow, with 4,500 litres from forage and 550 kg of milk solids from forage.

During their launch meeting, we will discuss the story of Rough Grounds Farm, including the share-farming agreement, and present a financial assessment of the farm, highlighting what factors have contributed to their profitability.

The day will also include a farm tour and an evaluation from the Worseys on their paddock system, which now contains a substantial herbal ley, and the changes in approach to integrating herbs and legumes into an existing grazing system.

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Further information

Strategic Dairy Farms

Rough Grounds farmers Justine (left), Jess (centre) and Graham (right)