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?

Cornwall - Becky Miles

Open Farm Sunday is on 8th June. PLEASE get involved, if you are not opening your farm up then offer to help a farmer who is. It is a very rewarding way to spend a day, the public really appreciate being able to ‘ask a farmer’ and how better to close the knowledge gap between farm and consumer?

If you would like to attend a discussion Group or just want information – please ask!

Becky Miles – DairyCo Extension Officer Cornwall 07500 873258

Ladies Discussion Group

Becky, Sarah (DairyCo) and Lucy (Haines Watts Rural Business) would like to invite you to a ladies only discussion group on Tuesday 8th July. It’s not to be a “Ladies Who Lunch” group; however, we’d like to encourage more women to meetings. We have noticed that it still seems to be women in charge of the calf rearing, paperwork and financial side of things on farm and we would like to be able work with you.

Farming can be isolating so this is a chance to get off the farm for a couple of hours, meet other farming women in a similar situation to you and chat over a nice buffet lunch. We’ll also have a short talk by Sarah Bolt, Extension Officer for Devon on calf rearing and how to put into practice on farm the latest research to get the best results from your calves.

There will be plenty of opportunity for discussion and if people would like to meet again, we can arrange more meetings on topics that interest you. We have lots of ideas and suggestions but feel sure you will have plenty too….

Venue:           St Giles Village Hall, Launceston, PL15 9SA

Date:              Tuesday 8 July 2014

Time:              11:00 am to c. 2:00pm

Booking is essential for catering purposes. To book your place at this event, please contact either Becky or Sarah by Friday 4th July on (leaving a message if necessary):

Becky: or mobile: 07500 873258

Sarah: or mobile:  07717 501564

We hope that you can join us for what is sure to be an interesting discussion.

Piers Badnell

Discussion Group – new grazing herd, setting and measuring objectives and KPI’s. Monitoring breeding and key investment decisions for the future, to realise full profit potential of land, cows, investment and owners.

What's been happening?

What you may have missed in the region:

Cornwall - Becky Miles

A beautiful sunny day greeted the 155 attendees of the RABDF,BGS and DairyCo Spring Walk at Trembethow Manor near Hayle in early April. Hosted by Paul Richards and his team on his 320 head Autumn block calving herd, the walk topics covered rearing calves outdoors from 10 days of age, out wintering vs indoor housing of heifers, optimising grass utilisation and slurry management.  Findings from DairyCo funded research on slurry management and out wintering was delivered by Debbie McConnell from the R & D team at DairyCo.

Jo Speed, DairyCo Senior Technical Extension Officer, travelled from the north of England to deliver the latest findings from our DairyCo funded Lameness research to the New Starters Group near Launceston, the Penmellyn Cattle Group and also to a group of farmers at Castle Vet practice. Jo explained how important it is to treat ‘early’ lame cows rather than waiting for them to become ‘3 legged’ stage where they lose condition and don’t get in calf – one way of keeping on top of lameness in your herd is to regularly mobility score them. DairyCo has resources to help you mobility score – all these are available to order, at no charge, from our website  You will also find details of all 57 Research projects we are funding on the website.

Duchy College in conjunction with NWF Agric held a Student ‘Cow Signals Day’ at the end of the month. Approx 80 students had presentations on rumen function, cattle diseases, nutrition, calf rearing, grass utilisation and Jo Speed presented on feet and mobility. The students had a really informative day – and some even had to dress up as chefs to ‘create a rumen’ or roll in the straw to check the calf bedding was clean and dry. Just proves that learning can be fun too.

Next month Becky will be able to update you on our latest project in Cornwall – DairyCo/British Grassland Society Demonstration farms looking at soil compaction, out wintering and also growing Lucerne. There will be 2 farms taking part who will be kindly hosting open meetings over the next 12 months.

Becky Miles – DairyCo Extension Officer Cornwall 07500 873258


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

Final day of DairyCo Grass systems Course with Dr John Roche in Staffordshire and Somerset looking at what drives profit, grazing, comparative stocking rate, cow genetics for grazing, nutrition, protein, fibre, response to supplements and once a day milking.


Devon - Sarah Bolt

The start of the show season heralds summer must be on the way! However this may not be the case, as the final day of the Devon County Show was cancelled, a first in the shows history. Exceptionally heavy rainfall before and during the show caused havoc with the parking. I attended the show for the first time in my DairyCo capacity. As well as stewarding in the milking area where I had an opportunity to talk to the farmers showing their cattle, I had a stand where the public were able to watch milking. Here I was able to promote dairy farming to the general public. During busy milking times there was a big audience, this gave me an opportunity to explain to the spectators what was going on; how and when cows were milked, how much they produced etc. There were plenty of questions being asked, and I’m sure their perception of the industry was much improved following their visit . The booklet telling the Story of Milk with Charlotte the Cow was certainly a hit with the children and a display of Devon dairy product more so with the adults. At the show I was even able to tick off an item on my “bucket list” – a shortage of handler meant that I was able to show a cow in the ring, this was certainly a first for me. A lack of rosette did not take anything away from the experience!

The weather has also been playing chaos for some trying to get silage in the clamp. Many were able to take advantage of the short spell of dry weather in the middle of the month. However, some farms in wetter areas were still unable to travel without creating a mess. The changeable weather is still posing a problem for some still with no first cut in the clamp.

Five discussion group meetings were held in Devon during the month. The topics as ever were many and varied: top tips for silage making, herd health, reviewing potential for grassland management, managing change – from split block calving to a tight spring block system, calf building choices and best practice for calving at 24 months.

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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