South West

Meet the team in your area

Introducing the team in your area

Our job is to link levy payers to DairyCo by taking your views back to the Board.  We organise events (both on and off farm) demonstrating best practice. The results of DairyCo research and development go back out to farmers.

One of our main roles is to establish and run DairyCo Business Groups in the region. The discussion groups consist of 10-12 like minded farmers meeting regularly. They look at subjects including electricity and water costs, optimising fertiliser efficiency, cow fertility, heifer rearing costs, benchmarking, time management and cost effective building improvement.  However, any subject leading to profit improvement can be covered, with group confidentiality being paramount.

What's coming up?

Piers Badnell

BGS DairyCo RABDF spring farm walk on 10th April 2014 at Paul Richards Trembethow Manor, Hayle. Great farm walk – heifer management, out wintering pro’s and cons, grass utilisation and slurry management. Well worth booking a place. Click here for more information

What's been happening?

What you may have missed in the region:


Cornwall - Becky Miles

A slightly frustrating month weather-wise for dairy farmers wanting to get stock out and grazing due to having a warm few days early on and then weather turning colder and wet again. Becky had an excellent Open Meeting at St Ewe looking at Cow Signals, with farmers opening their eyes to what cows are telling through their behaviour, finding relatively simple ways of improving their environment leading to ‘Happy AND Profitable’ cows. More recently one of Becky's new discussion groups had a meeting on best practice relating to calf rearing. Recent research on the benefits of social interaction for calves from birth onwards was presented showing that calves who learn how to socialise at an early age therefore learn how to survive in a herd environment – so reducing the negative impact when they join the herd at first calving. They also have a better food conversion rate and have less health issues over their lifespan – it’s a win win for the farmer and the calves. There will be new resources relating to calf rearing available very soon from DairyCo – giving you the best guidance on rearing your calves.

Becky is always keen to hear from you on what sort of meetings you would like to have in Cornwall, in particular if you are interested in hosting a meeting please give Becky a call 07500 873258 or e-mail  Hosting a meeting will boost staff morale and you will learn from the ‘expert’ presenting and from the Q&A from visiting farmers.

Feb/March 2014

South West - Michael Hardcastle

Five very successful meetings on Cow Signals were held in the South West, in Wiltshire, Dorset, Somerset, Devon and Cornwall, attracting 85 people. Jo Speed highlighted how you can make the best of your current buildings by observing how the cows interact with their environment.

Michael had a Milkbench+ Feedback session with Robot farmers in Somerset, with 7 farms participating. It was an excellent feedback session, with a decision from the group to carry on with Benchmarking into the future where they will pay independently for data collection.

Michael had the last of three Polish Staff training modules in association with Shepton Vets from Shepton Mallet. The first module was based around ‘Best Practice’ Milking Routines, the second module was based on ‘Safe Handling of Dairy Cattle’ and the third Module was based on ‘Recognising and Dealing with Sick/Vulnerable animals’. All three modules were hosted by Y Farms in Somerset. The modules were well attended with about 25 staff members from a number of businesses in the area.

Piers Badnell

What happened in Piers’s patch

Discussed with new Impact group early grazing strategies, graze early to set the wedge and season up and make use of quality grazing. Group new to early grazing and concerned over soil structure damage, so discussed the use of tracks and the host farm had pretty good infrastructure without actually appreciating it and just a few modifications to the set up and a bit more use of a reel would go a long way. Ground a lot drier than most expected and we walked the wetter half of the farm.

Devon - Sarah Bolt

March has been a busy month for most farmers in the area, taking advantage of the dry spells to get fertilizer spread; and as the month progressed, I have seen more and more cows out at pasture, even if only for a few hours a day. Despite it being a busy time, dairy farmers and staff have still found time to attend discussion group meetings; of which 6 were held in the county. I was especially pleased to re-start the Robot Discussion Group, after a period of time without meetings; this was well attended both by previous members and by new members joining the group. This is likely to be an ever expanding group as more and more RMS are being installed in the area, if you have an RMS and would like to join us, please contact me (details below).

In addition to the discussion groups two open meetings were held – one looking at cows signals - the concept of looking at cow behaviour to identify problem areas in their surroundings is growing in popularity. This enables dairy farmers to more closely meet their cows’ needs, leading to increased production and lower costs. After all, dairy farming is all about cows! The aim of the meeting was to provide a practical way of observing your cows, searching for and realising the causes, and then translating this into practical solutions. The goals being prevention of diseases, to improve cow comfort and optimise production. For further information see our website page.

The second open meeting was looking at staff management, this was run with funding from RDPE. Alistair Gibb from Cedar Associates led the discussion. The aim of the meeting was to develop leadership skills to motivate staff to achieve results planned for the business. The benefits of good staff management are likely to lead to: the smoother running more productive teams, increased job satisfaction and staff retention and less conflict and faster resolution of problems.

If you would like to join a discussion group in Devon, please contact me to find your nearest group, or the group to suit you. Additionally, I would like to hear your ideas for open meetings, so that I can provide you with the information you require to help your business move forward. Please contact me on 07717 501564 or




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