Mole Valley Farmers has created a Focus Farm group to showcase innovative dairy businesses that place the cow and the environment at their heart.
The aim is to highlight best practice and inspire farmers with real farm examples, says Mole Valley Farmers Sustainability Manager, Dr Matt Witt.
“The Mole Valley Farmers team work with some amazing farm businesses and we want to show what producers are doing day-to-day to maximise cow performance, whilst adapting to new requirements to reduce dairying’s impact on the environment,” he explains.
Stowell Farms in Wiltshire is one such example. Sustainability is an ethos that runs throughout the business, from cow welfare to feed sourcing and cropping. It’s what makes the farm one of the country’s top performers on the Arla Sustainability Incentive, which supports and rewards farmers for reducing their carbon footprint. In fact, for the first quarter of the year, they received 61 points, compared to a national average of 48.
Farm Manager, Neil Ridgway believes fulfilling the cows’ nutritional requirements and maximising comfort will translate into a more sustainable system. With that in mind, he instigated a system overhaul which means the 780 cow herd is now milked through 12 Lely A5 robots. “The main driver at the heart of this is cow and calf welfare,” says Neil. The herd yields 11,050 litres a cow a year.
The team at Duchy College’s Future Farm, in Stoke Climsland is also working to lower the autumn block calving herd’s environmental impact. They’re thinking carefully about ration balance to achieve their carbon footprint goals and working hand-in-hand with Mole Valley Feed Solutions.
The key aims of the unit are to serve as a cutting-edge educational facility, bridging the gap between innovative practices and the next generation.
The state-of-the art building embraces Dutch design to deliver a cow and environmentally friendly building of the future for the 220 cow herd, which is fed using a robotic system and yields 9,070 litres a cow a year. Temperature and humidity-controlled side vents and light sensors allow the internal environment to be constantly maintained at optimum.
Information on each farm can be found at molevalleyfeedsolutions.com/focus-farms where you can also view videos and diary entries from each business. There will also be regular technical articles from each farm throughout the year on topics such as reducing the carbon footprint of cow diets, technology and dry cow management.