Neil Baker from Rushywood Farm, Haselbury Plucknett, Somerset, is the winner of the NMR RABDF Gold Cup 2015. A finalist three times, Neil has made some impressive changes to the dairy unit in the past few years. And just in the past 12 months he has increased cow numbers by 520 head to 1,800 Holsteins.
Average performance for this herd stands at 11,772kg of milk at 3.62% fat and 3.25% protein on three times a day milking.
The family-owned farm now extends to 692ha with recent investments made to improve efficiency including a pipeline for liquid manure and an anaerobic digester soon to be completed.
Despite expansion plans, the attention to detail is demonstrated through herd health and fertility performance, such as an average somatic cell count of 125,000/ml, a Bactoscan of 30 and a 20% reduction in mastitis cases in the past 12 months. With a calving index of 385 days, the average age at first calving is 23 months and 57% of cows are in calf within 100 days of their lactation.
RABDF chairman and Gold Cup judge, Ian Macalpine said: “Neil Baker demonstrated exceptional qualities as a dairy farmer and his herd showed extraordinary performance despite him expanding the herd in the past 12 months by almost 30% and the high proportion of heifers in milk.
“Neil was examining every aspect and every cost of the business. His sheer determination to tackle herd health issues was impressive and to get the best from his staff, with training and protocols in place. The judges’ decision was unanimous to award Neil the Gold Cup.”
Runner up and recipient of the NMR Silver Salver is Brian Yates from East Logan, Castle Douglas, Dumfries and Galloway. Brian manages the 277-cow Holstein herd with his wife Sheila, son Michael and daughter Anna, as well as herdsman Trevor Hough and general farm worker Leslie Craik.
This all round calving herd averages 11,707kg of milk at 3.97% butterfat and 3.13% protein on three times a day milking. Average cell count is 108,000 cells/ml and in-calf rate 100 days post calving stands at 65%.
Joining Ian Macalpine in judging the Gold Cup this year were NMR Board member and Isle of Anglesey-based producer Trevor Lloyd and 2012 Gold Cup winner from Worcestershire, Mike Miller.
The Chris May Memorial Award, for the herd with the highest average lifetime daily yield among Gold Cup qualifying herds, goes to Nick Cobb from West Chaldon, Dorchester, Dorset.
His 742-cow Holstein herd achieved a lifetime daily yield of 18.97kg of milk a day. Contributing to this is the herd’s average milk yield of 12,915kg at 3.59% fat and 3.07% protein, a somatic cell count of 146,000/ml and a calving interval of 392 days.
BREED SOCIETY AWARDS
Also presented at the Livestock Event was the Lilyhill Cup for the top Jersey herd and the Murchland Cup for the top Ayrshire herd among this year’s Gold Cup qualifying herds.
Winner of the Lilyhill Cup, awarded by the Jersey Cattle Society, is Brown and Beer, East Hele, Bideford, Devon. This 231 cow herd achieved an average yield of 5,695kg of milk at 5.97% fat and 3.92% protein.
The Murchland Cup, awarded by the Ayrshire Cattle Society, again went to Gavin Lawrie from Monkton, Prestwick. This Ayrshire herd of 167 cows achieved an average yield of 8,593kg of milk at 4.16% fat and 3.35% protein.