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ABOVE The 750-strong milking
herd at Kemble farm is housed
under one roof.
LEFT Slurry is stored in the tower
on the left before being mixed
with maize. In the centre of the
picture is the generator.
Everything that the farm does is
engineered towards anticipating
problems and being proactive,
and this applies at all levels, in
part explaining the anaerobic
digester. The building project
started in early in 2008, with
electricity introduced into the
national grid from last August.
The plant, constructed by
Greenfinch, is one of the most
T
hose that doubt the ability of a farm to successfully run and, more
sophisticated of its kind in the
importantly, care for large herds of cows should head to Kemble Farms,
country and is expected to have
near Cirencester. The 2500 acre estate supports the 750 cow Thameshead
a lifespan in the region of 15
herd. The milkers are housed 365 days a year under a single span roof,
years, with payback expected
dispelling any negative images of large herds. And that’s not all that makes
within five years. The obvious
Kemble Farm stand out - the farm is producing a negative carbon footprint
benefits with the plant is the
thanks to the recent installation of an anaerobic digester, which contributes
aforementioned negative carbon
footprint for the unit, the
six times the farms daily electricity use into the national grid.
generation of extra income from
The herd has registered since the late 1970s, although the primary activity
a previously valueless product;
is milk production from a herd of cows where management focuses on the
manure, and the improved
individual cow rather than groups. Being shown around by three of the
fertiliser which is the end
four members of the dairy management team in itself is impressive, but
product. The process changes
reinforces the farms ethos of team work, which is one of the obvious drivers
the nitrogen within the manure,
to success. Phil Jones is herd manager, while Tim Wring is involved with the
thereby rendering it more
anaerobic digester and herd health. Henry Freeman is the longest standing
accessible to crops.
member of the team, having being there nine years, and he oversees all the
The easiest way to describe the
computer work, herd health and feeding of the herd, while Paul Newland
digester plant is as ‘a big green
is responsible for the dry cows and youngstock, which are looked after on
cow’. Just like a cow, its’ feeding
another steading. Paul sees to calving all cows on that unit, with the freshly
is crucial, imbalances cause it
calved animals returning to the dairy unit a day after calving.
to get sick and sickness leads to
Phil and the three key herdsmen are assisted by a five man milking team
problems, breakdowns and poor
and two who deal with feeding. All are recruited from an agency and
productivity. On a daily basis, the
currently include four Filipinos, a Bulgarian, a Romanian and a Ukrainian.
digester is fed 63 tonnes of slurry,
Communication is key to the entire operation, as farm manager David Ball
5 tonnes of maize and glycerol,
reiterates. “The unit is all about the people looking after the cows. It’s
with the addition of solid food
crucial to have a team here at Kemble if we want to remove the barriers that (maize) occurring for ten minutes
stop the cows expressing their potential”. every hour. It took a period of
The team takes a 20 minute tea-break every morning. This is so that they a few weeks to get the stability
can discuss any problems encountered during milking and to discuss the necessary to get the plant up
programme for the day. to potential and the right bugs
56 THE JOURNAL APRIL 2009
e2-09 Kemble.indd 2 01/04/2009 13:32:03
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