Simone Salverderi and Lorenzo Leso from the Po Valley (Milan) spent 3 days this week looking at UK Guernsey herds starting at the Beechgroves herd of the Lacey family, the visit started in the Farm Shop, where they were amazed to see that the customers help themselves and place the money into an “Honesty” box, they did not believe that such a system would work in Italy !
A quick tour of the Milk bottling plant where Dawn Lacey was just finishing the first of the weeks sessions where output has now reached 5000 litres a week, mostly sold along with Eggs from the farm into local shops.
Our Italian guests had been telling me on the journey from Stansted that they are locked into a high cost milk production system with cows housed all year, with zero grazed grass from irrigated fields, supplemented by maize silage and alfalfa and also that grass silage is prohibited because of the fear of taints affecting the famous Parmesan cheese for which the area is famed.
The Beechgroves herd is now split into high and low yeilders all year round in an effort to maximise output as the on farm processing grows but also by the fact that the milk sold through Arla/Milk Link is used by two independent Cheese makers who insist on Guernsey milk for their award winning cheeses. Plans are also in place to extend the cow housing, as ever I was impressed with the cows and in particular the daughters of the home bred bulls .
Our second visit was to Berkeley Farms at Wroughton in Wiltshire where Christine Gosling treated us to a fabulous lunch and Nick and Ed were able to explain their Organic system, a tour of the processing plant followed recently extended and seeking “Salsa” accreditation at the behest of Abel & Cole the main customer, but I was surprised to hear that currently Abel & Cole have a three week waiting list for Berkeley Farm Guernsey butter and that currently surplus cream is sold to the Marshfield Farm Ice Cream business, but that once the butter churn is replaced (next month) then butter production will increase as the returns from Cream turned to butter is twice that of the current cream price.
The Italians were interested to see the wholecrop cereal silage stored in plastic AG Bags, not a system used in Italy and also the focus on the use of “sexed” semen now used across the dairy herd as this is another herd that “requires” more milk for its processing business.
The final visit was to Bickfield where the Durbin family milk 300 Guernseys where Philip Durbin explained the challenges of living with TB (Italy is TB free) and living on the edge of a reservoir. The high yeilders were in the newly rebuilt cubicle housing and we saw Boy Wonder the son of the Ex93 B Linda. Brain Adams had joined us and Philip and Gill joined us for supper at the local pub before taking our guests back to Curry Rivel for their overnight stay.
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