A dairy farmer from Anglesey has won the British Grassland Society Farmer of the Year competition for 2018.
Richard Rogers of Tre Ifan Farm has won the competition. The farm was converted five years ago from a beef-finishing unit to a grass-based spring block-calving dairy.
Now home to 350 NZ cross-bred cows, the farm is focused on maximising production efficiency from grass, with an impressive 4,099 litres of an average yield of 5,349 litres per cow per year being obtained from forage.
Grazing is managed carefully to ensure quality grazing while minimising any impacts on soil health.
Routine soil sampling and a regular re-seeding policy help maintain grass quality and production across the 90ha grazing platform.
“Richard and his staff immediately took on board the rotational requirements and practices of a spring-calving herd when they changed to dairying,” says head judge, Staffordshire dairy farmer Steve Brandon.
“Growing 14.3 tonnes of grass dry matter, achieving a 93% six-week in-calf rate and exceptional milk yields from forage, have all contributed to making this a really top class unit.”
In recognition of winning, Mr Rogers received the BGS Grass Farmer of the year trophy and a cheque for £500.
Mr Rogers was joined at the awards celebration by finalists John Egerton of Lisnavoe Farm, County Fermanagh and Chris Brake of Church Farm, Somerset.
Mr Egerton, a beef and sheep farmer, was commended by the judges for developing a highly efficient paddock grazing system fit for the needs of all age groups of beef cattle and also the sheep flock.
By improving pasture he has been able to increase farm stocking rate, enabling the introduction of a new contract rearing enterprise for dairy heifers.
The 400-cow dairy unit run by Mr Brake often dries out in summer, so is predominantly autumn-calving, with a small spring-calved block. He looks to maximise milk from grass and maize silage, achieving 3,727 litres/cow/year from forage from an average yield of 8,598 litres/cow.
The judges were keen to emphasise that all three farmers had achieved a great deal in winning local and regional rounds to become competition finalists.