Cornwall-based Wills Brothers Ltd of the Willsbro herd have been crowned the winners of the 2023 Holstein UK Premier Herd competition.
The Wills family, who represented the Southern region, were presented with the highly acclaimed award on 13 September at UK Dairy Day.
The award recognises the most outstanding Holstein herd in the UK.
The winner of each individual club’s herd competition compete against neighbouring clubs to become one of the seven regional winners and finalists in the competition.
The Wills family’s 1,700-cow herd, based at Wadebridge, was singled out for praise by judge Brian Moorhouse of the Aireburn herd for its "exceptional management and presentation on a very large scale".
The Willsbro herd was established in 1969 with just 40 cows milking in a Hosier abreast bale.
In 1976 they increased their herd to 120 cows and started to milk in a 12/12 Alfa Laval herringbone parlour.
The year 2004 saw a further increase to 800 cows and the addition of a new dairy set up on a green field site at Pawton Dairy.
They primarily house cows in groups of 200, split according to stage of lactation. The cows are housed in sand-bedded cubicles, with a tidal wash-down system and milked three times daily through a 60-point rotary parlour.
In 2005, they graded up their herd to become full pedigree and started the journey in high genetic female families including Amber, Adina, Aderyn, Ashlyn, Lila Z, Pammy, Rachel, Rozy, Rozelle and Sharon, this was the start of Willsbro Holsteins.
The herd is currently achieving an average yield of 14,467kg, 4.06% fat and 3.24% protein with a calving index of 411 days. The all-Year-round calving herd, gained a Holstein UK Master Breeder award in 2020.
National Premier Herd Judge and 2022 winner Brian Moorhouse of the Aireburn herd, said: “Willsbro had exactly what I look for in a herd.
"There’s tremendous consistency throughout, exceptional udders legs and feet the right balance of strength and dairy quality in every age group.
"They are outstanding with exceptional management and presentation on a large scale.”
The seven regional winners are:
• Eastern – Messrs Winter, Corringham Herd
• Northern – Skirwith Hall Farms, Stowbeck Herd
• Northern Ireland – G & J Booth, Beechview
• Scottish – B & V Davidson, Errolston Herd
• Southern – Wills Brothers Limited, Willsbro Holsteins
• Welsh – Paul, Bessie & Bryn Williams, Waliswood Herd
• Western – Pierce, Milwr Herd