Neston Park Farm

Neston1“In organic dairy farming it’s important to address health issues before they even arise.” So says Paul Redmore, Farm Manager at Neston Park Farm in Wiltshire where the 300-strong Jersey herd produces top quality milk which is processed locally, mostly into cream and butter, to be sold under the Ivy House Farm label in many premier stores including Fortnum & Masons, Harrods and Selfridges.

The Neston estate has been in the hands of the Fuller family – famous for their participation in the Fuller, Smith and Turner brewery in London – since 1790 when John Fuller built Neston House there. In 1910 John Michael Fuller MP was created a baronet and, in 1998, the present owner Sir James Fuller became the fourth baronet. Like generations before him, he has continued to develop the Home Farm, which in 1999 was certified organic by the Soil Association.

Today, cereals grown organically on the 1,400-acre farm are used to feed the dairy herd, while beef cattle and lambs are also reared on Neston’s pastures.

The economics of organic farming led to the decision in 2014 to double the size of the dairy herd, which in turn placed extra demands on the milking parlour. “We knew we would have to install a larger parlour in due course,” said Paul, “but in the short term we needed to maximise efficiency as well as being scrupulous in the control of cleanliness and potential cross-infection.

Neston2“That got us thinking about installing a modern dip and rinse system, so we went to the dairy team at T H WHITE. They showed us the AirWash Plus system which not only has an outstanding track record in improving hygiene, but uniquely can be fitted to any cluster with any liner. An added bonus for us was the ability to transfer the system from the parlour we had then to our new parlour when it was ready.”

So it was, two years ago, that AirWash Plus was installed in the old milking parlour at Neston Park Farm. “The difference was almost immediate; cell counts dropped from almost 300 to between 150 and 180 and the incidence of mastitis was greatly reduced as well. Not only that, but we saved about 15 minutes on every milking by not having to dip the teats manually – a genuine gain.”

Earlier this year T H WHITE completed the installation of a brand new 24/24 DeLaval milking parlour at Neston with a full Delpro computer system and smaller stalls to suit the Jersey cows. As planned, the AirWash Plus equipment was transferred from the old parlour and expanded to serve the additional clusters.

“The new parlour is superb – very open and airy which makes the cows much more relaxed,” Paul added. “I’m really impressed with the job T H WHITE did, everything was correct with no corner cutting; all-in-all a nice, tidy job.”

Temple House Farm

TempleHouseFarmTemple House Farm sits on the Mendips near Shepton Mallet. The Reakes family have been farming here since 1929 and Simon and Ben Reakes are the fourth generation, working today with their father Roger who still milks every afternoon.

They take pride in the business they have built up and the high standards they have always applied to managing their herd, now of 160 cows. There’s not much that Roger doesn’t know about the dairy business, so it’s easy to imagine just how frustrating and upsetting it was when, for no obvious reason the cell counts in the milk they produced were consistently high and mastitis cases on the farm were rising.

“It was a mystery,” said Roger. “Hygiene in the parlour appeared to be good and we thought it must be down to an environmental factor such as the bedding conditions. We called in the vet who identified high incidences of strep uberis and we tried almost everything we could think of to get it under control over a period of about two years.

“I have to admit that I was the one who dug my heels in when it came to making fundamental changes in the way we worked. Simon had suggested quite early on that we should think about putting in a dip and rinse system, but I couldn’t see why we would need it as the dairy had good hygiene standards.”

Eventually the Reakes’ contacted T H WHITE who had installed their 24/24 DeLaval parlour some eight years previously and a demonstration of the AirWash Plus system was set up.

“After seeing it in action we managed to persuade dad to go for it,” said Simon, “and it proved to be one of the best decisions we’ve ever made. Having consistently had cell counts of 200-plus, within 8-10 weeks of installing AirWash Plus they had dropped right down to 99 and are now averaging around 150. Not only that, but the number of mastitis cases were reduced by over 50 per cent.

“Our bactoscan also dropped from 30-40 and is now just 10-15 – the cluster liners really are sqeaky-clean! Clearly the AirWash Plus is not only cleaning but also preventing cross-infection between animals. Using just 10ml of teat dip per cow it’s economical too.

“Based on the saved cost of mastitis cases alone we expect to achieve pay-back on the AirWash Plus system in 2½ to 3 years.”

Roger Reakes is the first to say the farm should have installed dip and rinse sooner, but then it’s easy to be wise after the event. “Perhaps the best thing,” he says, “would be to talk to other farmers you can trust. Almost everyone has been through similar problems at some time in the past and there’s a tremendous knowledge base out there. We would certainly be happy to talk to any dairy farmers about the benefits of dip and rinse.”

A J Langley & Son, near Bath

Langley1When replacing an old milking parlour that had been in use since 1975, the Langleys went for a Rolls-Royce package comprising a DeLaval 28/28 herringbone parlour with an auto-identify system, auto segregation, auto activity monitoring, auto plant washer, footbath, vari-speed vacuum pump and a heat recovery system, all house in a new purpose-built structure. AirWash Plus completed the installation, fitted directly to the DeLaval clusters, and it has already proved to be an important factor in mastitis control among the herd of 180 Fresians.

“We are seeing a maximum of one case of mastitis a week,” said Phil Langley, “as well as a drop in somatic cell counts. Milking with AirWash Plus is now a lot easier and quicker.”