Cow tracks get Objective One aid
New cow tracks are to be installed on a Cornish farm, thanks to grants approved through the Objective One Programme.
The project for Carracawn Farm, at Trerulefoot, near Saltash, will extend the dairy herd's grazing season by giving better access to fields - leading to improved health of the cows, reduced environmental damage, better safety for farm workers and lower production costs.
The work on the tracks and associated electric fencing will receive grants of nearly £7,000 from both the European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund and the new agricultural ministry, DEFRA.
Carracawn Farm's grazing land is split by the main Torpoint to Looe road and the dairy herd have to be moved twice daily between grazing areas and the dairy, often crossing the busy A-road.
Ross Byles from Carracawn said: "It takes three of us to move the herd and, particularly at the height of the tourist season, crossing the road can be a dangerous task. Improving our tracks and adding new ones will free up a 20 hectare block of quality grassland on the same side of the road as the farm, which will make moving the herd much safer."
Mr Byles added:"The new tracks will also give the herd better access to grazing land both early and late in the season, which should get us a better yield in the months when milk prices are at their highest."
The cow tracks project was developed with the help of Mel Sanders from the Objective One Programme's Agricultural Development Team, who said: "New cow tracks will provide benefits in terms of animal welfare, environmental management, cost-cutting and increasing yield.
She explained: "Giving the animals access to a walking surface that is hard-wearing and long-lasting will reduce lameness and mastitis.
"It will have environmental benefits by reducing the amount of land poached by the movement of a large dairy herd over saturated ground after heavy rainfall. Increasing the area of available grazing land will also reduce the amount of fertilizer needed to produce quality grass for silage.
"Proper cow tracks will also lead to a significant reduction in the run-off from muddy tracks, the consequent loss of vital nutrients in the soil and the amount of run-off washed into the local watercourse."
Miss Sanders added:"As the cost of milk production increases and the price stays low, it is essential that grassland is utilised where at all possible, as grass is the most natural crop to grow on any farm.
"The project will improve the efficiency and profitability of the farm through the extended grazing season, making it more sustainable in the long-term. In addition, the longer that the dairy herd remains outside, the less slurry there is to be disposed of, which will also lead to a reduction in costs."
Objective One Partnership Office
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