Chris Whitford has been running Windmill Dairy since 2015 he returned to work for David Christensen, who had previously employed him when he was a student at Harper Adams and then again from 2011-2013.
Chris says: “Originally, I worked at Mr Christensen’s main dairy unit nearby. But I always said if David wanted to resurrect the old milking parlour at Windmill Dairy, which has been used for rearing youngstock since 2005, I would come back to run it for him and that is what happened.”
The new milking herd was started with 80 cows which had fallen out of the main unit’s autumn calving pattern. Another 75 cows have been bought since then and there will be 280 to calve in spring 2019.
Since Chris’ return to the business 8,000 sleepers have been put down for tracks, 9,000m of water pipe has been laid, 42 water troughs installed and 15,000m of electric fencing erected. A new shed with 330 cubicles and calving area has just been completed and a second hand 24/48 herringbone parlour installed in an existing shed.
The cows are Holstein cross Swedish and Danish Red cross Brown Swiss which are put back to the Holstein.
Chris says: “We are spring calving and looking for low input, medium output. I want a smaller cow and have used British and New Zealand Friesian semen and some Jersey for the first time this year. The aim is for 5,500 litres at 4.4 per cent and above from 0.9 tonnes of concentrates.
From next year Chris will start to rear his own replacements with his wife, Daisie in charge of calf rearing. They take a proactive approach to herd health working closely with vet, Jono Cooper of Norcal Veterinary Services, but TB is one of the biggest challenges with the estate being in an edge area.
In a major restructuring of the business, from the end of 2018 Chris and Daisie entered in to a joint venture with Mr Christensen. He will continue to own the cows, while Chris will pay for labour, power and machinery. The profits will be shared and in time Chris will start to buy some of his own cows to build up his assets.