Agriculture and Farming
Sustainable Farming in Herriard
Park Farm is the only dairy farm left in Herriard. Situated in Herriard Park It has been in the Ives family for 63 years. Bill and Peggy Ives took on the tenancy in 1958. There are now only about 40 dairy farms in Hampshire and 8000 in the country. Environmentally the farm wants to be carbon neutral by 2050 and well before if possible. The Ives family are well aware of the challenges global agriculture faces. By 2030 there will be 1.1 billion more people on the planet who need feeding whilst at the same time we have to reduce our environmental impact.
In recent years, the farm has converted to renewable energy sources as much as possible. Water comes from a bore hole with a temperature of about 10-12 degrees C, it passes through a ground source heat pump which provides the house and office with its heat and hot water. This process also chills the bore hole water down to about 5 degrees where it passes along pipes to the dairy. The cooled water is then passed around a pipe cooler which has fresh milk from the cow running through it. The milk leaves the cow at 38 degrees, is then chilled, while at the same time the water is heated up by the milk. The milk is then cooled further to 4 degrees and stored. The water is heated slightly more to wash all the pipework through. All electricity during the day comes from solar panels on barn rooves.
Modern milking and animal welfare
In 2019 four robotic milking machines were installed to milk the cows. The robots are fixed units that the cows take themselves to when they want to be milked. Ideally no more than one or two cows will be waiting to be milked and the cows are fed an 18% protein nut while they’re being milked. The robots know exactly which cow is there, how much milk each cow produces and how much milk should come from which quarter of the udder. This flags up any difficulties should the milk yield go down. The machine also weighs them and can record how much the cow eats so the farmer knows immediately if the cow needs watching for potential health problems. The computer will take itself off individual quarters of the udder depending on when they’re finished. The machine washes the udder and teats before milking, sprays iodine afterwards to stop infection and everything is washed before the next cow is milked. The computer even knows if a cow comes to be milked too early. Unlike previous milking methods, where cows were herded to the milking parlour two or three times a day, the cows can choose when to be milked and with this method you can’t overmilk them, which can cause mastitis and other problems. Mastitis has gone down and use of antibiotics has halved. Both staff and cows are happier, relaxed and very chilled. They even have sand beds in the barn to lie on.
The main bulk of the cows’ ration is made up of home-grown grass, silage, maize silage and straw, which is analysed before the farm’s cow nutritionist formulates a diet incorporating rape meal and minerals. This ensures the cow is provided with a balanced diet which produces the right quality milk required by the milk buyer. By breeding and milking high yielding Holsteins, the Ives family are focusing on cows with a very high feed conversion ratio. This means that each cow’s environmental impact is much less than a lower yielding cow because her output per livestock unit is greater. The majority of milk is produced from home grown forage that is produced on farm using home produced manure as a large proportion of the fertiliser.