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Dairy, England

Dairy – Mike & Sue Tizzard, England

Mike and Sue Tizzard run a successful dairy operation consisting of five separate dairy farms in the southwest of England. In this case study, he explains how he has built a profitable organic dairy business underpinned by carefully selected genetics, good animal husbandry and cost effective milk production.

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Key areas of good practice
Animal Health and Welfare
  • The herd consists of a cross breed between the British Friesian, New Zealand Friesian and Ayrshire breeds. This produces a small, hardy cow with good feet, fertility and longevity, that are suitable for optimising a pasture–based dairy system.
  • Sexed–semen is used to inseminate the most efficient and productive cows in the herd, ensuring faster genetic improvement. This also allows the farm to use beef type genetics on the other cows, providing a higher value marketable calf. The use of sexed semen has achieved equivalent conception rates to standard semen and the farm estimates a saving of around £480 from producing a dairy heifer calf verses a dairy male.
  • NMR provides monthly milk recording to monitor individual cow milk yield, milk solids and Somatic Cell Count (SCC).
Business Planning
  • Accurate financial forecasting and planning allows the business to undertake capital investments within identified time frames to help improve economic stability and long term commercial sustainability.
  • The herdsman is employed on a 365–day contract and is paid on a per litre of milk produced basis. This encourages the herdsman to optimise milk production, and a bonus is paid for achieving targets relating to herd health and grass productivity. This policy has helped to drive business objectives and employee engagement.
Management
  • The cows are fed a forage–based diet with the aim of reducing purchased feed requirements and growing more protein on farm. This is being achieved by increasing the clover content of pastures and growing Lucerne for grazing. This activity also supports improved soil fertility and pasture productivity.
  • Two kilometres of new cow tracks have been laid which have improved and increased access to pastures, whilst reducing soil compaction, and erosion. The herd spends an additional four weeks at pasture each season, saving us £12,000 each year on housing and feed costs.
  • Agrinet is an online tool used to record grass growth measurement, which provides information to improve grazing management Recording these data allows the farm to monitor performance, inform decisions, target resources and drive progress.
  • The Kingshay Dairy Management Tool is used to record and benchmark herd performance and manage costings.