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Young Farmer Focus - Will Mitchell, Cornwall



Will Mitchell, 23, is a Harper Adams University graduate with BSc (Hons) Agriculture with Farm Business Management. He works in partnership with his parents on a 162-hectare (400-acre) mixed farm in St Kew, North Cornwall.

 

Business: Since graduating from Harper Adams University in September last year, I have entered into partnership with my parents.


The business compromises dairy, beef and arable, with the dairy enterprise being my main interest.


Dairy: The herd is pedigree Holsteins and is run under the Laram prefix, with about 100 milking cows plus followers.


I am passionate about breeding, in particular genomics and cow families. Within the last 10 months, the business has started genomically testing every heifer calf born and the information gained enables management decisions to be made when the animal is less than a month of age.


In May we attended the famous Noremead Holstein dispersal sale and purchased 12 cows.


The standout buy was Noremead Shottle Rapture, a Picston Shottle daughter, with her dam being Riverdane CBA Rapture.


With 13 generations of excellent classifications behind her I am excited to be able to work with this cow, with a flushing programme already started.


The aim is to increase family members within our herd and add to families such as Flo and Playmate. This is the main aspect of dairy farming I love and breeding quality genetics and ensuring long lasting cows is something I am aiming for.


Technology: I believe the use of technology is key, however only where appropriate.


Uniform Agri (dairy management software) and SCR Heatime (heat detection) are the areas the business has invested in.


Uniform Agri allows me to access all animal data via the application, enabling vet routines to run smoothly and accurately, while reducing the time I spend sat at the computer as all information can be synchronised to the desktop.


Heatime has seen heat detection rate increase by around 25 per cent, and reduce our calving interval by 20 days since its introduction in January. After a full 12 months in place, I hope these figures will improve further.


Market outlook: Currently the industry is still under severe pressure regarding milk prices, however there have been some green shoots of recovery, with some processors in the UK announcing price increases.


The industry is going to see more volatile prices because of the global market in which the UK operates in, therefore businesses are going to have to structure themselves which will allow them to continue dairy farming under intense market pressure.


However, my view for the UK dairy industry in the future is of great optimism and I hope this is shared by many young dairy farmers throughout the UK.

 

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