How to manage a second dairy farm 70km away

The key decision on whether to rent  a farm over 70km away and establish a dairy enterprise on it, was down to the availability of talented staff according to one UK farmer.

Ed Dale, who held an open day on his dairy farm in Cheshire recently, said that he has been renting the farm for less than two years and his key decision to rent it was based around the availability of talented and ambitious staff.

“We wouldn’t have taken on this farm unless we had people who were able to manage and run it,” he said.

Houlston Manor is 45 miles (72km) away from the other home farm.

“It’s a long way from home so we needed good staff that we can rely on.

“We offered one of our employees Neil Simcock, the management position at Houlston Manor and he’s stepped up to the extra responsibility and workload.”

Two full-time staff are also employed. Similar to the New Zealand model, senior staff are becoming involved in profit share and equity partnerships with the Dale business, he said.

Ed has been renting the farm for less than two years and he runs a split herd of 350 autumn calving cows and 100 spring calvers. They are milked off a grazing platform of 177ha. The cows are currently producing 10,000 litres/day to a Tesco liquid milk contract.

He also said that key to his system was to keep it as simple as possible and focus on making best use of assets and the farm’s ability to grow cheap feed – grass.

The Dales currently milk over 2,000 cows on six farms.

Michael Cox, from Rathowen, Co. Westmeath, is a student of animal science at UCD and visited the farm as part of a farm walk recent. Michael won an ASA scholarships, sponsored by AIB, to help him undertake the work experience element of his course overseas, including the UK.

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