Last night I attended the first meeting of the Cumbria Grassland Society Winter programme. This started with the Annual General Meeting where the chairman commented upon a successful year including dinner dance and trip to visit farms in Wales. I was then asked to give the treasurers report which was well received and thanked by members for giving a concise summary of the finances.
Dairy farmer Steven Brandon then gave an interesting talk on how he has changed the home farm in Staffordshire from an intensive to extensive dairy system based upon New Zealand farming practices.
Looking to expand he spotted an opportunity to take the tenancy of Dolphenby Farm, Penrith in 2011. This 700 acre farm is 150 miles from his home and an innovative business equity partnership was formed with local farmer Robert Craig. A new milking parlour and extensive cows tracks have been installed. This Spring over 500 cows will be milked and will be managed by the herdsman. Through the use of technology such as web based farm management software, Steven and Robert will oversee key factors such as grass growth and financial margins remotely. It was a very good example of how thinking outside the box can help farm businesses grow in size and use different risk management tools such as sharing assets / knowledge.
All in all, another very interesting and informative evening from the Cumbria Grassland Society.