Strategic Dairy Farms appointed in Cheshire and Devon

Published 22 December 17

The Tucker Family Low ResSpring block calvers the Tucker family from Devon and all year round (AYR) calvers Tom and Karen Halton from Cheshire have been recruited as AHDB’s latest Strategic Dairy Farms.

Building upon AHDB’s recently announced optimal dairy systems approach, the two farms will showcase best practice, host high profile events and openly publish benchmarking data with a focus across the different production systems.

The appointments form part of AHDB’s Farm Excellence programme and complement the existing spring block Strategic Farm at Houghton Lodge in Leicestershire.

Jon Parry AHDB Head of Dairy Knowledge Exchange said: “I’m delighted that we are able to appoint two such high calibre operations as our Strategic Farms. They’ll add strength to our portfolio and allow us to further accelerate farmer to farmer learning centred on two production systems.

“Ultimately we want to have nine farms spread across GB - three each of all year round, spring and autumn block calvers. We’re still keen to hear from autumn calvers so please get in touch if you think this could be you” continued Jon.   

Tom and Karen Halton rent 550 acres close to Congleton in Cheshire, milking their 530 all year round herd three times a day to deliver an average daily lifetime yield of 16.1 litres.

Their focus on fertility enables them to achieve a pregnancy rate of 30% and age at first calving of 23.8 months, placing them well within the top 25% of performers according to AHDB’s recently published key performance indicators,

The Halton’s supply County Milk split between three contracts and have a successful on-site vending machine. They take part in a Crewe based study group run by David Hughes, sit on their vet’s Farm Advisory Board and are members of their Healthy Heifer Club. 

Karen Halton explains why they wanted to get involved with the Strategic Dairy Farm initiative: “We are passionate and proud of what we do.  We are open and honest and not afraid to share our journey so far to help others and also to learn more from fellow farmers and professionals in the industry.”

Richard Tucker, together with his parents Nigel and Brenda run a spring block herd of 240 New Zealand Friesians and Friesian Jersey crosses on 450 rented acres at Dichetts Farm near Tiverton in Devon.

They’re currently achieving 1,060 kg milk solids per hectare, 3,661 litres from forage and their low herd replacement rate of only 17% is among the top end of performers. Richard is Chairman of the Devon and Cornwall based Grassmasters discussion group and Vice Chairman of Devon NFU.

Speaking about the appointment Richard said: “Being able to discuss and implement current thinking and research on our farm would not only help us to develop as both people and as a business, but it would also be good to share this with like-minded people.”

Farmers can follow the Strategic Dairy Farm programme online at ahdb.dairy.org.uk.