Finalists for the past three years, Ian and Sally Macalpine from
Clitheroe, in Lancashire, have risen to the top spot this year
and won the UK dairy industry’s most prestigious award – the
NMR/RABDF Gold Cup. A finalist for the second year running Peter
Jack from Blandford Forum, in Dorset, is this year’s runner-up
and wins the NMR Silver Salver.
Sally and Ian Macalpine
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,
switching from Holsteins, five years ago after the FMD outbreak
The move to Jerseys was driven by Ian Macalpine’s determination
to produce a value- added milk rather than continue to sell milk
into a commodity market. Five years on, production has exceeded
the Macalpine’s expectations. NMR yield averages are 6,200kg
per cow at 6% butterfat and 4% protein. Cell counts are running
at 165,000/ml and herd longevity is high with 30% of cows in
at least their fifth lactation. Helping the Macalpines achieve
high performance is herdsman Les Helliwell and apprentice Sam
Wearden, as well as occasional part-time staff.
Making the best use of available land is important to the Macalpine’s
business and the Jersey breed fits in well. “Jerseys are
very efficient producers of milk solids out of dry matter,” says
Ian Macalpine. “They can be up to 30% more efficient than
a Holstein cow. We can keep 200 Jersey milkers where we could
only have 150 black and whites.”
Since the outset, when a herd of Danish imported cows was purchased
in the UK, milk has been supplied to J and E Dickinson’s
Longley Farm Dairy at Holmfirth, near Huddersfield, where the
price is based on butterfat and protein content.
A review of the herd’s diet last year led to the introduction
of a more energy dense TMR based on grass silage, molasses, grain
beet, concentrate and some fat, and fed at a flat rate all year
round. In just six months the new diet increased herd margins
by 23% with no increase in cow numbers.
All herd replacements are home bred by Danish and American sires
with the intention of building herd numbers up to a maximum of
220 with an average yield of 6,500kg.
Heifers leave the farm at six months old and are reared on contract,
during which time they are served, and returning a month before
calving at 24 months old. Their calving index is currently running
at between 365 and 370 days.
Ian and Sally
Macalpine also won the Lilyhill Cup for the third
year running, awarded to the highest placed Jersey herd in the
Gold Cup competition.
Runner-up – Peter Jack
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.
The SCC stood at 128,000cells/ml, with a calving interval of
435 days and a replacement rate of 15%. Heifers are 28 months
of age when they calve. Milk from Peter’s herd is sold
on a Waitrose contract.
takes a commercial approach to breeding and hasn’t
bred for milk yield for five years. He is looking for functional
cows – a balance of type and production – and size is
important too. Peter likes a large cow with plenty of capacity
for forage. Milk from forage currently stands at 2,987 litres.
The herd calves all year round and is fed a TMR. High yielders
are ‘topped up’ using out-of-parlour feeders and
concentrates are also fed in the parlour. The herd’s margin
over feed is 15.95ppl.
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 our dedicated and
high skilled and motivated staff,” says Peter, who adds
that, next to his wife, his staff are the most valuable asset
on the unit.
Peter also values and takes pride in the farm’s
environment and believes it is possible for a high-output, large-scale
system to be managed in harmony with the surrounding landscape
chairman of the competition judges, dairy farmer and RABDF chairman
Lyndon Edwards, commented on the extremely high level of stockmanship
on all farms. “But what added to this in
the case of the Macalpines was the market focus. They turned
FMD into an opportunity,” says Mr Edwards. “They
considered what the market required before restocking. This showed
great vision and ambition.”
Commenting on behalf of the judges, Mr Edwards also drew attention
to the Jack’s thorough five-year plan and the team work
in evidence in the operation of the unit. “They made good
improvements on last year, particularly in the quality of stock
and the attention to business detail.”
More than 800 dairy herds were eligible to enter this year’s
NMR/RABDF Gold Cup. The
six finalists were selected from all
completed entries for their comprehensive business approach and
outlook for the future. Joining Lyndon Edwards on the judging
panel were dairy farmer and NMR board member Trevor Lloyd and
Dr Malcolm Crabtree of Leckford Estates.
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