Organic Dairy Farming at Woodhorn Group

Today we toured The Woodhorn Group, which is an organic dairy farm with a composting site called Earth Cycle on the farm as well. They began farming in 1882 as a family run farm, and the current owner, John Pitts, is the fourth generation to run the farm. John diversified the farm in 1998 by adding a compost site that today recycles over 80,000 tons of garbage waste a year.

The Woodhorn Group milks on average 250 cows twice a day in a sixteen cow parlor. This makes them a large farm in comparison to most organic dairy farms in England. However, they are currently only milking around 150 head as they are in their drying off period. They are different than a lot of farms in the United States that calve year round, as they calve in the fall. Cameron, one of the workers at Woodhorn Group, explained that this is because in England, milk prices are highest in the winter, so they try and increase their production starting in the fall to maximize their yearly income. The dairy industry is struggling as much in the United Kingdom as it is in the United States. This is part of the reason why they added the compost site.

Because the Woodhorn Group is an organic farm, they try and keep their cows out on pasture as much as possible to minimize their feed costs. On average, the cows are outside about 1/3 of the year. With being organic, they have to make sure that any feed they buy and produce is pesticide free. This is a challenge that they face as pesticides are commonly used in many of the grains they use in their feed. However, they are able to find some barley left over from brewing. They also use maize and forages to make up their feed. 

The cows on the farm produce a lot of the manure that is used in their composting. This is combined with green waste from the surrounding community. A typical pile of compost will be regularly turned over and temperature tested for 14 weeks before it's able to be packaged and sold. They check the temperature regularly to ensure bacteria and weeds are killed. Earth Cycle offers multiple types of compost made up of a variety of different materials that can be used in a variety of different ways. One cool thing about their compost is that it doesn't contain peat. This is different than a lot of compost found in Minnesota as many them do contain peat.

English word of the day:
Butt rake- it's used to move silage

-Breannca and Taylor


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