A decent return on capital invested, together with a business challenge and a sensible work-life balance are the key aims for one Shrops herd.

Roly Tavernor’s low input/low output dairy herd at Mount Farm, Market Drayton, is currently five weeks into a tight spring block calving period for the 350-cow herd.

Working with his wife Mary, and with four children aged six to 15, means demands on Mr Tavernor’s time are plenty.

“There has to be a financial return and quality of life or you’d do something else.”

The farm business covering 160ha (395 acres) has developed a New Zealand-style grazing system generating an average of 13t dry matter/ha annual grass yield with 85% being used successfully by the dairy herd, he calculates.

“Effectively 11t DM/ha is going down cows’ throats.

“We now have a good infrastructure of parlour, tracks, fencing and water troughs that make life easier.

But there are still challenges.

“We have good staff but I’d like to give them more responsibility.

We also need to develop crossbreeding within the herd.

We’re not focused on Holstein.

And we need to maintain flexibility so should feeding concentrates become an economic option we can take it.”

Meanwhile, Tiverton, Devon-based Winston Reed believes the essential element for success should be the same for all businesses – a bid for technical efficiency.

Mr Reed’s high input/high output 800-cow dairy business supports 500 followers and rears about 1000 beef cattle annually.

But no matter what the system or mix of enterprises, technical efficiency, good cost control and market focus were the three critical targets for all producers, he argued.

fwlivestock@rbi.co.uk