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Young farmer focus: Marcus Doig - 'Staffing is one of my biggest challenges'

Marcus Doig, 27, graduated from Harper Adams University after spending a year in industry learning all aspects of modern dairy farming. He now manages a family owned 243-hectare dairy in Somerset, milking 300 cows. 

Background

 

Like many young farmers, I always knew I wanted to work in agriculture.

 

I longed to ride in the real tractors or milk the cows with my dad on our mixed enterprise arable and dairy farm in Norfolk.

 

Unfortunately the path to succession was not so clear when the farm was split up in 2004 and I was forced to rethink my route into agriculture.

 

Opportunity

 

Fast forward a few years and an opportunity arose while attending Harper Adams University to apply for a scholarship with Velcourt, a farm management and consultancy business.

 

My attainment of this led to spending a year in industry on their flagship estate in Dorset learning all aspects of modern dairy farming from cropping to nutrition and of course how to survive a winter in a damp workers cottage.


After graduation, I returned to the estate as trainee farm manager.

 

There, my mentor Allaster comprehensively educated me; from the crucial aspects of overseeing staff to knowing where to spend all your free time if your cottage was really that cold and damp – the pub.


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Accountability

 

For my first solo management mission, I was assigned Bristol University’s very tidy and modern dairy.

 

Nothing can prepare you for total responsibility quite like doing it.

 

Taking on so much accountability was undoubtedly challenging.

 

I was so pleased to be part of a bigger team with Velcourt who were there to support and help when needed.

 

After two years it was time to move on as a more confident man but I was sad to leave behind the people and cows (I love a pedigree Holstein).

 

Somerset

 

I have ended up managing a family owned 243-hectare dairy in Somerset, milking 300 cows which has provided a fantastic opportunity to work closely with all stakeholders and we have exciting expansion plans for the future.

 

I think the dairy industry today is facing immense pressures, very different to those my dad experienced 20 years ago including consumer awareness, need for transparency and legislative restrictions.

 

Personally, staffing is one of my biggest challenges. I try and ensure my staff have a good work life balance and invest in them with training, knowing that you only get the best from your cows by working to achieve the best from and for your staff.

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