W Threlfell & Son of Plumpton Head Farm near Penrith are one such farming business, which has received just over £200,000 to develop the dairy enterprise on their 800 acre farm. A 40 percent grant was approved to support the installation of six Robotic DeLaval Milkers. This has enabled the family to significantly improve animal welfare as well as advance the productivity of their pedigree Holstein herd.
Working together with his father John, Richard is a third-generation farmer with 570 head of stock, incorporating the 320 milking cows. Commenting on their recent funding, Richard said: “With the support through Improving Farm Productivity Grant Scheme we have been able to install our whole new dairy unit. In total, the robotic milking equipment cost £600,000 and it would have been incredibly difficult for us to justify had it not been for the funding.”
Considering the impact the robotic milking equipment has had on their farm, Richard said: “Cow welfare has really improved since the robots were introduced. Our vet bills have also decreased dramatically because potential issues can now be caught early and identified in advance. Production has increased on the same feed costs, profits are also up about 20 percent and we are seeing a 34 percent increase in milk yield.”
Richard, aged 48, farms with his wife Nicola and his two children Masie and Matthew, aged 14 and 12. In addition to an increase in overall efficiency and profitability on the farm, Richard noted that his work life balance out with the farm has also improved massively. He said: “Now I can spend more time with my wife and children – and I’m not as tired and grumpy!”
Considering the importance of these schemes, Richard continued: “These funding opportunities are incredibly important for farming enterprises today. They can be a massive help in allowing businesses to keep striving to be more sustainable, which going forward will be absolutely vital. Over and above increasing productivity and helping with work life balance, these funds available can play a profoundly important part in future proofing your business.”
To date, H&H Land & Estates have secured many hundreds of thousands of pounds in approved grants, on behalf of their clients and it is Chartered Surveyor Jonathan Hird, who played a key role in helping the Threlfell’s obtain this grant, via the Rural Development Programme for England (2014 – 2020).
Richard says “Throughout the entire application process, Jonathan and the H&H Land & Estates team were on hand to guide us, right up to the claim, which was really reassuring. As farmers, here at Plumpton Head we are really keen to continue doing what we do best: looking after our livestock. We bring in the rural professionals do the rest – the admin, logistics, paperwork – and their support, and advice on the grant funding application really has been invaluable. We certainly wouldn’t have been able to install the system without them.”