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LEFT Animal welfare is the top priority at Wilderley. Stocking densities are low for all age groups.


BELOW TMR is fed once a day but doesn’t heat up at all.


A WINNING FORMULA AT WILDERLEY


Bill and Margaret Higgins began farming 197 acres at Wilderley Hall Farm near Shrewsbury in 1965 and by 1993, which saw sons Andrew and Bill fully incorporated into the business, the family were milking 120 cows averaging 6,500 kg. By 2009, 250 cows officially averaged 12,444 kg with 846 kg CFP, placing them at the top of the NMR rankings. Alison Maddrell travelled to Shropshire to find out more


T


he farming policy at Wilderley Hall has always been one of maximising opportunities. In 1992 when milk recording commenced, the Wilderley herd was simply grazed, with grass silage fed in winter and cake fed in the 12/12 herringbone parlour. When Andrew and Bill joined the business in 1993, the decision was made to take the business in a new direction and much consideration was given to the optimum system to enable multiple livings to be drawn from one dairy herd without the need for off-farm income.


Expansion was the obvious solution, alongside maximising the potential of Holsteins’ production power so the first investment was a Keenan mixer wagon and maize became an important component of the first mixed ration in 1993. In 1995, the decision was made to replace the 30-year-old 12/12 herringbone parlour so the cows were milked through a bale for three months whilst a 20/20 direct line


De Laval was installed. Milk yields went up immediately after the changeover was made, so additional quota was leased in and enough was secured to cover further increases in output. It was at this time that the decision was made to switch to three times a day milking to fully utilise quota limits and this continued for four months over the winter of 1995. The cows really seemed to switch on and this meant by January 1996, combined with numbers creeping up, there was too much milk in the tank so the Higgins’ suddenly had to return to twice daily milking to suppress yield! There followed a struggle to acquire satisfactory levels of additional quota, but over the years this ongoing process has facilitated the increase in numbers to 250 cows on 300 acres with milk sold per cow at the end of May 2010 standing at 12,270 kg annually at 3.88% fat and 3.07% protein. Astute management has led this progression to the top of the production charts. Both Andrew and Bill are fully engaged with the technical aspects of modern milk production while committed to maintaining a very simple daily routine. To maintain consistency, Andrew controls all the breeding and vet requirements of the herd along with contracting and field work, and Bill takes responsibility for nutrition for all groups, which totals three across all stock. The herd have always been fed a single diet irrespective of lactation stage with another ration for dry cows and a third


22 THE JOURNAL AUGUST 2010


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