A commitment to the future of milk production for the next generation
of the Dockeray family has involved investing in new dairy facilities
and splitting the farm partnership and Single Farm Payment.
Malcolm Dockeray and his son David at the
Malcolm Dockeray and his brother Nigel invested in a brand new
parlour and slurry store to allow a new dairy herd to be set up
at Kelsick House Farm, Abbeytown, near Wigton which is now run
as a separate business from the nearby Kelsick Farm.
Grant aid for capital investment from the NWDA funded programme
Farming Connect Cumbria helped divide the 460 acre family farming
partnership at Abbeytown to allow better prospects for the next
The brothers were farming together and, now each with their own
sons, had always planned to establish two separate businesses.
Malcolm said: “Our late father John and our mum Phyllis
bought Kelsick Farm after moving there as tenants in the 1950s
and it had always been Dad’s intention for us each to have
a farm. Kelsick House Farm was bought in 1986 and run in the partnership.
“Up until after foot and mouth we ran 400 store cattle at
Kelsick House, some from the 125 cow dairy herd at the other farm
where Nigel and I shared the milking, and the rest bought-in, finishing
100 to 120 a year.
“Foot and mouth in 2001 flattened us and during that time
we got a computer which allowed us to keep costing records of our
finishing enterprise once we re-stocked and we discovered we were
losing money on the cattle.”
With Nigel and his wife Julie’s son Mark, now 24, and Malcolm
and his wife Gillian’s son David, 15 and in his last year
at Nelson Thomlinson School, fourth generations of the family both
keen to continue with dairying, the family decided it was time
to divide the business. Malcolm and Gillian also have two daughters,
Anna, 17 and Bethany four while Nigel and Julie have a daughter
By then the Dockerays had already made ongoing investments at
Kelsick House, both in land improvement and drainage and in buildings
which included a shed with cubicles and pennage for the store cattle
which were then made into further cubicles to house the 126 cows.
An area between the two new buildings had been left with a view
to building a parlour. It was already roofed and just needed to
be fitted out with the parlour and concreted.
“When we learned about the capital grants available from
Farming Connect Cumbria we applied and got the maximum help with
both a new parlour and a slurry store,” said Malcolm.
The new Westfalia 12 x 24 swing-over
parlour at Kelsick House
“The grants have helped us to set up a system with the best
possible welfare and comfort standards for the cows and youngstock
which we hope will last us for the next 30 years. We didn’t
Advice was given by business adviser David Baxter and environmental
adviser Peter Faulder who both are Cumbria Farm Link advisers.
The grant went towards the cost of the Westfalia 12 x 24 swing-over
parlour at Kelsick House with milk meters linked to the computer,
in-parlour feeders and other time saving extras, installed by GD & M
Dunglinson, of Brunstock, Carlisle.
In January 2005 the order was placed for the new parlour at Kelsick
House and it was commissioned and running by August that year.
The Dockerays also installed the exactly same type of parlour
at Kelsick Farm which they paid for themselves. This was running
by November 2005.
Also grant aided was a Permastore slurry tower with 240,000 gallon
capacity with the ability to be expanded to a further 160,000 gallons
which is important as the farm is in the River Waver catchment
sensitive farming initiative which includes Biglands Bog.
“Without the grants we would have had to buy second hand
equipment and update it later on,” added Malcolm.
“It has enabled us to get the herd up and running much faster
and it has enabled us to make further investments of our own into
super comfort in the cubicles with cow mattresses and keeping the
shed clean with automatic scrapers.
Milking cows at Kelsick House
“The cows are inside half the year and the welfare of the
animals is very important. Now we have a situation where the welfare
is the best and it also makes it much easier for us.
“As a result, our yields from the complete diet have risen
since we bought the cows from various breeders from 7,800 litres
to 9,600 litres which is about our target. Now we can concentrate
on feeding for health. From October 1 milk has been sold to Ronald
Akkerman’s West Lakes Dairy.
“The investment has left us each with modern facilities
on two 200 acre ring-fenced farms, along with rented ground. The
original milking parlour has lasted us 35 years and it was still
in good working order but the cows were getting too big for the
stalls. Now, hopefully, the investment has set us up for the next
“At the time we made the decision to build another dairy
unit people thought we were mad because the milk price was so low,
but now it is improving.
“It doesn’t matter what business you are in as long
as you are willing to work. All sectors of farming get peaks and
troughs - you just have to watch what you are doing. It has been
tight in dairying. But, like all farmers in this area, we pride
ourselves in what we do.
Between the two farms there used to be 600 head of livestock.
Now there are 120 dairy cows on each farm with 75 followers at
Kelsick Farm and 90 at Kelsick House.
With the help of the NFU’s Ian Mandle and Glen Davies from
the Carlisle office the difficulties of splitting the Single Farm
Payment have been resolved.
Nigel and Malcolm however still run a contracting business together,
forage harvesting and combining, and Malcolm has continued his
father’s business selling, fixing and hiring out generators.
The brothers have each also invested in a complete diet feeder
with the aim of being more efficient however Malcolm does not believe
in buying the cheapest but in getting the best price for the best
His aim is to feed as much as possible of home grown fodder and,
as part of the re-seed policy, grass is under-sown with barley
which is both whole-cropped and combined. Sheep are taken in over
the winter to clean up the grassland.
As a result of free advice offered because Kelsick House is in
a catchment sensitive area, fertiliser use has been cut to two
thirds of what it was originally.
Eventually the herd at Kelsick House will be closed but currently
replacements are being bought in.
All the cows are run with the black and white bull and any not
holding to service are then put to the beef bull. Black and white
calves are exported and cross-breds are sold store.
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