2 November 2001

AFRESHSTART WITHTOPSTOCK

By Debbie James

REPLACING much-loved dairy herds lost to foot-and-mouth will prove a difficult task for many, but one restocking Carlisle producer has bought a herd with similar genetic value.

Peter Grahams Heatherskill high yielding herd of 130 Holstein Friesians was culled in April after F&M was confirmed in the herd. He was keen to restock with cows of comparable pedigree and yields and found them in one of Britains top dairying regions. As the breeder, Dennis Lewis, is retiring, the arrangement suits them both.

Mr Lewis established his Cerwyn herd in Pembrokeshire 40 years ago. More recently he has bred the cows using top Canadian lines including Avondale and Monogram. With an average milk yield of 9000 litres, it has repeatedly won production and inspection competitions run by National Milk Records.

Mr Lewis is retiring from milk production and his son Ian has chosen a career outside agriculture. For him, it is a good time to sell. "The price was good and we were very pleased with the deal," says Mr Lewis of Prisk Farm, Maenclochog.

Mr Graham is equally delighted. "They are smashing cows with excellent bloodlines, I cant wait to get them back here."

He is still waiting to move the cows, if the 250-mile movement restriction remains in place, the cows will have to stay in Pembrokeshire. If that goes on for too long, two of his sons, Richard and Lee, will come to Wales to milk the herd.

It has been a difficult time for the Graham family, but they are looking to the future with confidence. They are installing a new herringbone milking parlour at Anguswell Farm, Kirklinton, and have plans to expand the herd.

It is a fresh start after a turbulent few months. "Its a good time to get the parlour in place, while we havent got any stock on the farm," says Mr Graham.

"There is no doubt that the dairy industry will soon be expected to comply with the high standards now expected on other food production units. Now is the time for us to be getting all that in place."

The sale was facilitated by West Wales auctioneer, Bob Jones-Prytherch and Co. The companys livestock director, Huw Evans, is anxious to see the 250-mile limit lifted. Pembrokeshire has a surplus of cows and breeding stock, but potential buyers are being put off by the uncertainty of not knowing when they can take delivery, he says. &#42

HERD MOVES

&#8226 One producer retiring.

&#8226 Delivery delayed.

&#8226 Culled unit revamping site.

Dennis Lewis is pleased to have sold his 9000-litre pedigree Holstein Friesian herd to restock a farm in Cumbria culled due to foot-and-mouth.