CATHY Adams and Michael Garvey recently accompanied 17 local dairy farmers on a Farm Innovations Visit (FIV) to two large dairy herds in Yorkshire, to see at first hand the protocols implemented on the farms to manage large numbers of cows and staff.
The farms were A E Banks, Wildon Grange on the edge of the ‘Vale of York’ and Metcalfe Farms, Washfold on the edge of the ‘North Yorkshire Moors’.
Michael Garvey, CAFRE dairy adviser, said: “Both herds were housed full-time, milked three times daily and all female progeny were genomically tested. They were fully TMR fed with no parlour feeding and have access to by-product feeds. The cows were grouped according to stage of lactation or lactation number.”
Michael continued that: “They had well trained, enthusiastic staff who followed task protocols to ensure quality, uniformity and repeatability.”
What did the group learn about managing large herds? Cathy Adams, CAFRE agriculture lecturer replied: “On both farms we saw the importance of the owner being hands-on. These farms prioritised cow feeding, calf rearing, cow health and welfare. They knew the pinch points in their businesses and their parlours were certainly up to the job.”
And on staff management, Cathy continued: “Staff training is important, especially where there is repeatability of tasks. Both Banks and Metcalfe farms invested in their talent and allowed them to develop. Excellent communication within their teams was obvious.”
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