The term “mixed farming” covers a wide variety of activities on the 71-acre holding of Mr Hugh Richmond at Balleney, near Armoy. They include the running of a dairy herd and beef cattle, potato and barley growing, egg production and turkey rearing.
The 10-strong milking herd, which is mainly Friesian cross, plays an important part in the beef production end. Mr Richmond rears all calves, only the pick of the heifers from his best cows going into the milking herd as replacements. A Hereford cross is used with young heifers in the milking herd and their calves, regardless of sex, are retained as beef animals, as are all bull calves and also heifers from the less satisfactory cows.
These calves are reared right through to finishing. During the winter they are housed but are free to wander in and out to graze at will. Animals in the finishing stages are fed concentrates with hay, silage being used only occasionally.
More than 150 tons of silage, from two cuts, are made. The milking herd feeds at the silo face and is accommodated in modern quarters with open court and lying-in shed, the milking being done in a traditional byre.
Mr Richmond grows eight acres of potatoes, mostly Dunbar Rovers, but has this year experimented with the newer Maris Peer.
“I am satisfied with the cropping quality of this variety,” he told FarmWeek, “and like particularly its ability to resist blight.”
Mr Richmond has found, however, a certain reluctance on the part of merchants to accept the Maris Peer variety.
The potatoes are followed by a similar acreage of barley.
The turkey enterprise, which is in charge of Mrs Richmond, is rather unusual in that all the 200 birds for the Christmas market have been raised from a few of their own breeding birds, mainly by hatching and rearing by hens. There are both white and coloured birds in the flock but all are broad breasted.
In the farm’s poultry laying unit there are 1,500 birds in cages.