Objective One helps neighbouring farmers join forces and cut costs

Two Cornish farms are reaping the benefits of working together after Objective One helped them buy new machinery for them to share.

Martin Whell and his parents, who run a herd of 300 cows over 168 hectares on their farm at Luxulyan, teamed up with neighbour Ian Higman and his parents, who have 150 cows and 101 hectares, to purchase jointly four pieces of machinery with the aim of reducing costs and achieving a more flexible system of farming.

The investment in a new feeder wagon, grass harrow, mower and trailer has been supported with £13,565 from the Objective One agriculture fund and the same sum from the Department of Food and Rural Affairs.

Under the scheme both farmers have use of the new machinery and have entered into a legal contract together.

The nature of the farms meant the cows had to walk up to three quarters of a mile to pasture, but the new machinery means both farms can now move to zero grazing and provide the herds with daily cuttings of fresh grass as part of a balanced diet.

This stops the cows having to travel considerable distances, improves their diet, and allows better management of grassland pastures. It has also reduced the amount of silage and supplements required, which means the farms have sustained milk yield but reduced their costs considerably.

Zero grazing also allows them to respond better to seasonal weather variations and get the most out of their herds.

Martin Whell, who applied for the Objective One funding on behalf of the two farms, said: "The main part of the project has been to achieve zero grazing. I was tearing my hair out at the amount of rejected grass I was getting in the summer because we just didnít have enough ground near the farm for fresh grazing.

"And because of the shape of Ianís farm his cows had to walk so far that some were getting bad feet.

"We introduced the new system at the beginning of the season when we had the machines on loan and itís been great. We started cutting grass in the middle of April and Ian was able to feed his cows right through to November without the need for silage.

"At the start we saved about a tonne and a half of silage a day, but it can be up to four tonnes. Weíve also reduced the protein by around 300kgs a day, which saved us about £30-40 a day straight off.

"The cows like it and with high yield cows you want something a bit different. Theyíre like finely-tuned athletes so you need to pamper them a bit."

Mel Sanders of the Objective One Agricultural Development Team, who co-ordinated the project bid, said: "We supported this project because this type of co-operation, through a machinery ring, sets a good example to other farm and rural businesses at a time when both are looking hard at their cost base.

"We are now monitoring the performance of the project and will make that information available to groups and individual farmers considering this type of collaborative venture. It wonít be the answer for everyone, of course, but in this case it was ideal."


Editors notes:

Jason Clark
Communications Manager
Objective One Partnership Office
Castle House
Pydar Street
Truro TR1 2UD
Tel:01872 241379
Fax:01872 241388