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Stackyard News Aug 07

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Six Outstanding Dairy Farms Vie for Gold Cup 2007

Six dairy farms – from more than 800 qualifying herds – are through to the final stages of this year’s NMR/RABDF Gold Cup. The 2007 winner will be announced at the Dairy Event, Stoneleigh, on Wednesday 19 September.

RABDF Gold Cup

RABDF Gold Cup

Newcomers are Tim Gue from West Sussex, Nick Cobb from Dorset, and Mark Heywood from Gloucester. In the final a second time are last year’s runner-up Devon producer William Ley and Peter Jack from Dorset. Third-time finalists are Ian and Sally Macalpine from Lancashire.

Tim Gue farms in partnership with his wife Marion, and his mother Pauline Murphy, at Huddlestone Farm, in Steyning, West Sussex.

He manages his 350-cow Huddlestone pedigree herd with help from four full-time staff, including herd manager Peter Blocksidge and his assistant Anthony Trigwell.

The herd averaged 10,142kg of milk at 3.99% butterfat and 3.12% protein for the recording year ended September 2006 on three-times-a-day milking. The SCC stood at 171,000cells/ml and milk is sold to Arla.

Tim has spent the past 18 months building the current team of dairy staff. He says that this was key to improving herd performance and taking the business forward.

The first of two finalists from Dorset, Nick Cobb farms at West Chaldon Farm, near Dorchester in Dorset, where he and his father David and uncle Alan have a tenancy on part of the Weld Estate.

The 636-milking Holsteins in his Chalclyffe herd averaged 11,507kg of milk at 4.00% butterfat and 3.10% protein on three-times-a-day milking. Milk is sold to Dairy Crest, with a proportion sold on a Marks and Spencer contract.
Nick believes that the highly skilled team is vital to the herd’s – and business’ – success. The herd is managed on a new unit, designed to maximise cow comfort and all easy of management.

Also from Dorset, Peter Jack farms in partnership with his wife Margaret at Normandy Farm, Winterborne Stickland, near Blandford Forum, which forms part of the Crown Estate.

His 155-cow pedigree herd averaged 11,854kg of milk at 3.84% butterfat and 3.04% on twice-a-day milking. Milk is sold on a Waitrose contract.

Expansion – as part of a 10-year plan – is on-going with cow numbers expected to reach 200 by December. This expansion has been made possible thanks to the herd’s dedicated and high skilled and motivated staff. Peter says that, next to his wife, his staff are the most valuable asset on the unit.

William Ley from Thuborough Barton, Holsworthy, Devon runs a highly successful herd of 188 pedigree Holsteins averaging 10,600kg of milk at 4.02% fat and 3.34% protein. Milk is sold to Dairy Crest.

His wife Marion is in charge of calf rearing and sons Gerald and Roland have developed complementary businesses around the dairy – bull hire and a machinery sharing scheme respectively.

This year they are putting up a new building that will allow the herd to expand by around 50 head. High levels of cow comfort and plenty of slurry storage are important components of its design.

Mark Heywood from Haresfield Farm, Gloucester, also makes it to the final this year. The 250-cow dairy herd is part of a 1200 acre mixed farm and is managed by Chris Stone with a strong team who are all involved in decision making.

Average milk yield is 10,491 kg, with impressive components of 4.41% fat and 3.18% protein on twice a day milking. The herd has a high health status with no IBR or leptospirosis and a vaccination programme for BVD.

Conditions for growing maize are exceptional on the farm and this crop forms the basis of the cows’ ration. Cows graze during summer but the grassland is much less intensively managed than the forage area.

Ian and Sally Macalpine run the 200-cow pedigree Ribblesdale herd at Laneside Farm, Waddington, near Clitheroe. They restocked their 68-hectare grass farm with Jersey cows five years ago after the 2001 FMD outbreak.

Five years on, production has exceeded the Macalpine’s expectations with NMR figures running at a rolling average of 6,200kg a cow at 6% butterfat and 4% protein and a target of 6,500kg.

Success relies on a strong team – Ian employs two staff, herdsman Les Helliwell and apprentice Sam Wearden, as well as occasional part-time staff. Milk is supplied to J and E Dickinson’s Longley Farm Dairy.

The six herds were selected from all completed entries for their comprehensive business approach and outlook for the future. Finalists for the Gold Cup 2007 are being judged by dairy farmer and RABDF Chairman Lyndon Edwards, dairy farmer and NMR board member Trevor Lloyd and Dr Malcolm Crabtree of Leckford Estates.

The NMR/RABDF Gold Cup is open to all milk recorded herds meeting the competition criteria of more than 70 cows/heifers in the milking herd, an annual somatic cell count average for the recording year ending September 30, 2006, of 200,000/ml or less, or less than 400,000/ml for organic herds, and a minimum PIN value specific to the breed – £5 for Holstein and £6 for Jerseys, for example.

Ian and Sally Macalpine, Lancashire
Peter Jack, Blandford Forum, Dorset
William Ley, Holsworthy, Devon
Tim Gue, Steyning, West Sussex
Nick Cobb, Dorchester, Dorset
Mark Heywood, Haresfield, Gloucestershire

stop press Third Time Lucky as Lancashire Jersey Herd Strikes Gold

link Four ‘Islands’ and Five Breeds Represented in 2007 NMR/RABDF Gold Cup
link Cheshire Dairy Farm Wins NMR / RABDF Gold Cup 2006
link Energy Cost Savings are Fullwood's Dairy Event Focus


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