Walk into the parlour at Charlie Whittingham’s Llanbedr Farm and you instantly feel you’re somewhere special.
The rubber flooring is spotless, the milking equipment is gleaming, all the gates shut perfectly. And when Charlie tips over a watering trough in one of the cubicle houses, the water just glides off the carefully cambered concrete.
His attention to detail is truly impressive. The collection yard leading up to the parlour is deliberately sloped upwards. “Jersey cows don’t like going downhill, so this keeps them facing the right way,” he explains.
He is also mindful of the impact of his farm on his neighbours. New cubicle buildings are clad in brick to improve the aesthetics, while the slurry pit is screened off with newly-planted trees.
Environmental management features highly in Charlie’s list of priorities and several hundred metres of new hedges have been planted.
But there would be no point in maintaining such a pretty farm if it was not working commercially. And on just about every measure, the business passes muster.
Charlie converted from pedigree Holsteins to commercial Jersey cattle in June 2004. The budget for this year anticipates a milk yield of 6000 litres, a price of 34p/litre and a gross margin of 18.2p/litre. Even allowing for the extra output from Holsteins, enterprise profit is expected to be almost £50,000 higher under the Jersey system.
Converting to Jerseys was also the right life-style choice, with low maintenance cows on a block calving system.
Charlie takes a keen interest in where his milk goes to and has been closely involved with the local cheese plant at Llandyrnog in developing branded Jersey Cheddar.
He is also keen to pass on his experience to others, hosting four open days last year and maintaining close links with three local agricultural colleges.