Farmed by: Fletcher and Co LLP
Location: Winsford, Cheshire CW7 3PA
Farm Size: 181 acres (71ha) all grassland
Farm Type: Extensive grazing dairy
Herd Size: 210 all spring calving
Herd Average: 5.400 litres
Breed: Kiwi Friesian Jersey Crosses
Areas of Interest: To investigate the benefits of applying lean manufacturing techniques to their milk production in order to drive down waste and drive up output. This will be of interest to all systems of milk production.
Facilitator: Lesley Innes (Reaseheath College)
About the Farm: Clive Hall Farm is a tenanted farm, managed under a contract farming agreement between Fletcher & Co. LLP and Phil Asbury which commenced in January 2007.
The total farm area covers 71ha of grass – classified as flat to gentle inclines on heavy loam soil. There are a total of 31 grazing paddocks (average 1.93 ha), with an additional 11ha used for winter forage and dry cow grazing. All paddocks are accessed by cattle tracks installed in March 2007 and grazed for 12, 24 or 36 hours per paddock.
Grass growth rates are measured regularly, grazing from a cover of 1400kg/DM/ha to a maximum of 2800kg/DM/ha during the peak growing season of April to September. Paddocks exceeding 2800kg/DM/ha are conserved as silage by external contractors.
From March to September the cows are on 100% grass with 1.5kg/DM/day concentrate fed in-parlour. During September through to mid-October the farm begins to increase its grass cover to an average of 2500kg/DM/ha through a programme of supplementary forage (rising from 3kg/DM silage) and concentrate (rising from 2.5kg) to reduce the grazing requirement.
The cows are housed continually from the end of November through to early February, when they are moved outside (post-calving) and fed 10kg of grass and 5kg of concentrate, with no access to silage.
A representative cow in the unit would average 550kg liveweight, being much smaller in stature than typical dairy cows due to their breeding; Kiwi Freisian Jersey crosses. These cows were selected for increased efficiency in grass to milk conversion (measured as milk production of litres/ha/liveweight rather than litres/cow) in addition to greater durability through better conformation and fertility.
All replacement heifers come from within the herd and calves are sold to another Fletcher & Co unit at weaning (8-10 weeks/ 90-100kg) for rearing. The same calves are bought back, at an agreed price, as in-calf heifers at two years of age, three weeks prior to spring block calving.
All cows are artificially inseminated from 1st May for a five-week block and sweeper bulls are with the cows for a further 5 weeks – enabling the farm to have a tight 10 week spring calving block between February and March. Any empty cows are inseminated at a later date and sold as late summer/ autumn calving cows. The current calving index is 369 days.