The UK’s Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) is establishing a strategic farms network around the country as part of its commitment to support the industry transition towards net zero emissions.
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The series of new strategic dairy farms will focus on environmental sustainability and ‘excellent’ farm business practice. They will share key data and learnings through both on-farm and digital meetings. Topics up for discussion will include animal health, forage and youngstock, AHDB said.

The first two farms to join the programme are Low Ballees in Ayrshire and Willow Tree in North Yorkshire.

Low Ballees, Ayrshire

Farmed by the Campbell family since 1928, Low Ballees is run by David Campbell alongside his father Tom. Their all year-round calving herd consists of around 130 Holstein/Friesian type cattle housed indoors on a robotic milking system, producing around 11,000 litres.

Milking cows are housed in a newly built portal framed building adjoining an existing cubicle shed. 135 cubicles are fitted with mats and sawdust is used for bedding.

The farm extends to 125 ha with over 13 ha of woodland and 1.3 ha of deep peat that also allows them to sequester carbon, AHDB revealed.

Willow Tree Farm, North Yorkshire

Howard Pattison and his family run a 280-cow herd with an average yield of around 11,500 litres at Will Tree in Northallerton.

Cows are milked twice daily in a herringbone parlour, calve all year round and are fully housed. Milking cow accommodation is provided in modern portal frame sheds fitted with 324 deep sand cubicles and integral feeding passages.

The farm extends to 162 hectares, growing a mixture of grass, winter wheat and maize. All cropping on the farm is fed to the dairy herd either as silage, straw or crimped wheat.

“We are excited to be able to add these farms to our existing strategic dairy farm programme,”​ said Nic Parsons, AHDB’s Head of Knowledge Exchange, Dairy. “These new farms have already started on their journey focusing on their environmental credentials. We hope this will help other farmers understand the small changes they can be that will ultimately benefit their business while also helping their own journey towards net zero.”​

Fonterra says the outlook for dairy is positive, and the co-operative has released an upbeat forecast for its full-year profit.

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