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from recently retired herdsman Mick Linguard who recently left after 42 years working with the herd. Mick had seen many changes and developments at Welbeck, including the start of cheese production 10 years ago.


Having been pushing for yield, recent milk prices have seen production eased back through feeding choices, with the herd now averaging 8700kg at 4.45%bf and 3.3%p with 170scc and a bacto scan of eight. High yielders are now fed for 30 litres with 3900 litres coming from forage.


Thanks to the farm being on sandy land the herd can be grazed for an extended period under a paddock grazing system. This year low yielders went out to grass during the day on 12th


March. They will be


turned out at night once there is enough grass. Meanwhile, high yielders will be turned out during the day and night after the first cut and buffer fed once a day to help maintain condition until they are in-calf. TMR is made up of grass silage, maize silage and lucerne. Breeding is focussed on functional type and components


to meet the ideal production of 4.3%bf and 3.4%p for a cheese contract. “The aim is to breed a medium sized cow with good functional type, not excessive stature and good feet and legs. Butterfat and protein percentages are also important. The herd has now been bred for these traits for 10 years since cheese started being made on the farm.” To help with conception rates Genus RMS is used for insemination on the farm. And, in an aim to increase herd numbers quickly, heifers are all served to sexed semen, with sexed semen also used for first service on cows. Currently bulls in the tank are Doberman, Zeber, Gerwyn, History, Soprano, Pesky, Paradise, Corinthian, Topsy and Shekel. When investing in cubicle sheds the decision was made to go for mattresses and sawdust with the land already being sandy. “We didn’t want to increase the sandiness of the soils through the slurry,” adds Graham. “We’ve built housing for 240 cubicles and a straw yard for 50 cows. Running at 170 cows we hope to naturally increase the herd to 250 cows.


The new dairy layout was designed in-house with help from specialist dairy advisors and built by Pryce Roberts Construction. The building work ran smoothly as Pryce Roberts have a farming background and, along with their working hours, we were highly impressed.” When it comes to heifer rearing, the farm uses group teat feeders in igloos, with calves moved on to TMR at weaning. During the summer young stock graze older grass leys and are topped up with up to 1kg of concentrate. Heifers are calved in at two years old. Embracing green technology 50kWh of solar panels are sited on the cow shed and the farm uses 97% of the electricity produced. “We aren’t able to have any more electricity produced on the farm than what we need because of vast areas of green energy saturating local networks. There is also a 99kW wood chip biomass boiler on the farm. It heats water and radiators in the dairy and farm office, cheese factory and provides central heating and water in the farmhouse,” explains Graham.


The boiler uses wood from the


Graham Walker is dairy manager for Welbeck Estate.


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