Over the past few days we have had the opportunity to visit two different conventional dairy farms. The first one was Southview Farm. Southview is owned by Charlie Hughes, it is family farm that has been in the Hughes family since 1919. Charlie took over the farm in 2008 from his father, and has made several upgrades to the farm to make it as efficient as possible. The farm currently milks 100 head of Holstein-Friesian cattle (the typical breed found in England), but is working towards increasing the herd to 120 head. Since Charlie has three kids of his own, he wants his farm to run as efficiently as possible, which is why he has adapted several technologies on the farm that are not usually found on a farm of his size. Southview Farms uses robotic milkers, automatic lighting, automatic calf feeders, and automatic feed scrapers. The robotic milkers allow the cows to go in and milk themselves whenever they want to be milked, which Charlie says is a minimum of twice a day. Southview Farms is also unique because they put their cows out on pasture during the morning. In order for the cows to be let out, they must go through a robotic gate, which only allows them out to the pasture if they have been milked first. Seeing Charlie's set up of robotic milking was really interesting because robotic milking isn't as common in the United States, especially on such small farms.
On top of milking cows and selling the milk, Southview is diversified because they own their own farm shop. Many of the products come from the milk the cows produce, and almost all of the other products are locally produced. The farm shop seems to be a success within the community as Charlie says he is looking into ways to grow it.
The second conventional dairy farm that we visited was Bregsells Farm, owned by Danny Laker. This was a privilege to visit his farm as we are the first general public group to tour the farm. Similar to Charlie's farm, this farm has been in Danny's family for years. His father started the farm as a tenant farmer in 1960, and eventually bought the land and passed it on to Danny. The farm is actually composed of two farm sites, but we only visited one of them. On the farm site we visited, Danny milks 180 to 200 cows all year round.
What made this farm interesting and unique to visit is that Danny has a passion for Belgian Blue cows. He has decided to crossbreed some of his Holstein-Friesian cows to Belgian Blue bulls via artificial insemination. He leaves these crosses out on pasture in cow/calf pairings. Right now, his herd of Belgian Blue crossbreds is relatively small; however he is wants to build the herd up to about 50 cow/calf pairs. Most of us on this trip had never seen Belgian Blue cows in person, so it was really cool that Danny allowed us to go see them up close in the pasture.
On the dairy side, Danny's operation is similar to the operations you would see in Minnesota. He has the same dip, strip, wipe, milk, dip routine that many conventional farmers use and beds his cattle on sand when they are in the barn for the winter. During the rest of they year, Danny tries to minimize feed costs as he has his milking cows out on pasture. His parlor is different than ones found in Minnesota because instead of having a 24-12 parlor, Danny does a 24-24 parlor. This means that instead prepping and milking 12 cows on one side before doing the same on the other, Danny and his workers do both sides of 12 at the same time.
Stag do- bachelor party
Hen party- bachelorette party
-Breannca and Taylor