Holistic approaches to a range of on-farm problems

Crichel Farm is an organic dairy and arable farm in Dorset, which runs two milking herds of 200 cows each. The high welfare and productivity of the herds is achieved by dedicated herdspersons, close monitoring and quick action taken if needed. Key improvements for animal health and welfare were achieved by crossbreeding (three way crosses of Holstein, Swedish Red and Montbeliarde) and the simple transformation within the old cubicle houses into sand cubicles. Infectious diseases are closely monitored: The herds are BVD and (probably) Johne’s free, but constant surveillance and risk based prevention are continuously required to prevent introduction. Lameness and mastitis levels have fallen significantly and fertility is now excellent.

Parasitic problems in youngstock were a feature during the last summer – the wettest in 100 years with parts of the pastures flooded. Targeted medical action according to egg count results was required at certain times, followed by a review of grazing strategies. Fly control in the summer has been successfully achieved using parasitic wasps. The weather also had a significant impact on grazing and forage quantity and quality, and adjusting the diets to minimise condition and yield losses is an ongoing challenge.


Theme: animal husbandry
Published: 22nd January 2013
Author: Peter Plate