A shared farming partnership located in Flintshire, Wales has been announced the country's first strategic dairy farm.
Rhual Dairy is an all-year-round-calving herd with 336 Holstein Friesian cows run by John and Anna Boot.
By becoming a strategic farm, the dairy will host on-farm events, sharing best practice as well as technical and financial performance.
The pair both graduated from Harper Adams in 1997 where they studied Agriculture with Animal Science.
John became an assistant farm manager on an estate and Anna became a dairy specialist for an independent dairy company.
In 2001 they decided to move up from Dorset to Mold to start a share farming partnership with John’s Dad and the neighbouring farm, Rhual Farm Partnership.
The share farming partnership started with 250 dairy cows producing an average of 7,200 litres per cow per year and now currently milk 336 cows, producing an average of 8,400 litres per cow per year.
They aim to increase milk yield, litres produced from forage, improve transition cow management and reduce antibiotic usage, all of which will be covered in their on-farm meetings.
On joining the network, Mr Booth said: “We are hoping that by becoming a strategic farm, it will enable us to pay more attention to key performance indicators and help us achieve our business goals through listening to other farmers and other industry professionals.”
Anna added: “We installed a new parlour in 2006, along with a slurry store, which gave us the opportunity to increase cow numbers and help us achieve our target of lifting cow yields to over 9,000 litres per cow.
“We also found becoming a member of the discussion group The Udder Group helps us focus more on the cost of production through benchmarking.
“Over the last 12 months, we have improved our transition and calving cow housing, along with renewables in the form of solar PV and thermal, which will hopefully help us improve our performance, along with cow comfort,” she said.
Rhual Dairy is the first strategic dairy farm to be recruited in Wales as part of the Dairy Improvement Programme, which is funded through the Welsh Government Rural Communities – Rural Development Programme 2014-2020.