A UK dairy farmer is set to sell his 1000-strong herd to fund his retirement, which includes building up a pedigree suckler herd.

The Western Morning News reports that Reading dairy farmer Steve Graham is selling off his 1,000-strong herd in what could be Britain’s biggest disposal of milking cows this year.

The herd could make in the region of £1.5m – perhaps more, according to the reports.

It is reported that 1,000-cow herd of Holstein Friesians is not going under the hammer due to the much publicised drop in UK milk prices this year, but due to 50 year old Mr Graham’s wishes to retire after a 35-year career in the business.

“I’m retiring – it’s nothing to do with the state of the industry. I’m 50 and I have worked since I left school. I’m a self-made man, I’ve worked extremely hard.

“Too many people I know have died – I’ve been to too many funerals and I have decided I want to have the time to do what I want to do,” Mr Graham told the Western Morning News.

It also says that the cows of the Graythorne Herd, which are being sold by auctioneers Kivells at Holsworthy market, are to go under the hammer over two days – on Monday March 23 and Monday March 30.

Kivells says the sale will include the entire milking and dry cow, and in calf heifer portion of the herd, with a National Milk Record herd average of 8,171kg (lact ave) at 4.35% BF, 3.34% PTN. The cows are cubicle housed and rotary parlour milked.

Graham took over the family farm 15 years ago and moved the herd to Thorne Farm, near Holsworthy.

He said dairy farming was hard work and seven day a week milking took up so much of his life it was now time to slow down and do other things. He is not giving up farming altogether and is planning to establish a pedigree suckler beef herd.

“I’m going into farming’s slow lane with a few suckler cows,” he said.

He told the paper that having started farming so young in life, at 15 years of age, meant he had a very young start in farming and had lived his life “backwards”. He added that most people do their travelling and having fun when they are young, but he was working and never went to college and now he wants to travel and enjoy life.

“There is so much of the world I want to see including visiting the US, New Zealand and I might even be tempted to go on a safari. Anything really providing it doesn’t involve playing golf!”