Ribble Valley dairy farmers get walk invite

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RIBBLE Valley dairy farmers John and Ben Hartley have seen milk yields rise, reliance on bought-in feed fall and the quality of their home-grown forage improve during their time as a monitor farm.

Over the past two years, they have shared this progress with others at regular on-farm discussion meetings, but for anyone who hasn’t been able to attend, or wants an update on anything they might have missed, there is a farm walk on Tuesday, November 8th, at Mason House Farm, Bashall Eaves, to recap on progress seen so far.

In 2009, the Hartley family agreed to take part in the RDPE Northwest Livestock Programme, one of three dairy farms in the North West looking to sharpen their business, and provide a focus for other farmers to pick up tips and discuss fresh ideas on ways to make headway during challenging times for the industry.

John said: “Being the monitor farm has made us sharper. Over the past two years, we have reduced feed costs, at the same time as increasing the average daily milk yield per cow.

“We are now monitoring the health of the herd more closely, which will help us pinpoint any issues before they have a major impact, as well as looking at different ways of producing more and better quality silage.”

The programme has another two years to run, so this mid-term report will focus on what has worked well and what hasn’t.

The walk will be led by John, Ben and a group of fellow farmers who have attended previous meetings on what they have found beneficial to their businesses.

Free for farmers to attend, the day will focus on monitoring herd health, the changes made to the milking and dry cow accommodation, improving silage quality and possibilities for herd expansion.

Farmers have a choice of attending at 10-45 a.m. or at 1-15 p.m. for convenience, as the morning session will be repeated in the afternoon, with lunch in between at 12-30 p.m.

Further information on the monitor farm can be found at: www.livestocknw.co.uk.