William Westacott and family are tenants of the Chevening Estate running a 296 hectare holding which includes a 38ha grazing platform, 105ha of arable land, 80ha of HLS ground and manage a further 45ha of parkland.
Alongside his son, Josh, herd manager, Richard Evans and several part-time staff William milks 190 Holsteins averaging 9,700kg/year with 4,700kg from forage. The farm operates a block calving system starting on September 1 and ending the first week in January.
Post calving cows are synchronised, to keep the block tight, and artificially inseminated with a British Blue bull. Calves are sold to a regular local buyer at two weeks old. No replacements are bred on-farm, instead every spring between 45 and 50 in- calf heifers are sourced from Germany for both economic and herd health reasons.
They spend a period in quarantine and are vaccinated for BVD, IBR and leptospirosis before joining the main herd just before calving. William works closely with Westpoint Vets and has a robust herd health plan in place.
Regular post calving and fertility visits are also an opportunity to discuss any issues and future health related plans. William believes that having a strong relationship with his vet and regarding him as one of the farm team is essential. Key issues which will be addressed in the coming months are reducing cases of mastitis, which is already well below the national average and taking a fresh look at dry cow therapy and how antibiotic use can be reduced.