31 May 2002

SWdairy prices unruffled

By Andrew Shirley

DAIRY farms in the south-west are still attracting significant levels of interest despite the sliding price of milk.

Great Wooton, near Colebrook, Devon, has caught the eye of a number of farmers from across the Irish Sea, says James Baker of selling agent Strutt & Parker. He reckons the 300-acre unit appeals to buyers from the Republic because holdings in Ireland tend to be much smaller with little scope for expansion.

Although the property features a traditional thatched farmhouse, Mr Baker says the £1.2m property has not been aimed at the residential market and all the demand so far has come from dairy farmers.

The agent puts the sustained interest in dairy units down to the resilience of farmers and the acknowledgement that the large-scale systems used in New Zealand are the way forward. Great Wooton is run under a strip grazing rotation system similar to Kiwi set-ups. Continuing the NZ theme a Waikato 24:48 herringbone parlour services 270 cows.

In Wilts, William Grant of Woolley and Wallis says he has just conducted a viewing of Manor Farm, Tytherington, his latest £2.1m offering, for a dairy farmer from the region who could be interested in making a lock-stock-and-barrel offer.

The same farmer was also making the journey down to Somerset to take a look at Lower Sutton farm, Sutton, on the market with Cooper & Tanner for over £2m. The 500-acre unit would also be available on a lock-stock-and-barrel basis and the firms Martin Hemmett is in buoyant mood.

He says that most of the people looking at the property have been producers. "The past few weeks have been wonderful. It has been an absolute pleasure to show farmers with real enthusiasm around such a good farm."

Another milk unit in the region is also due to be launched soon. Dreweatt Neate are handling the disposal of Pittsland Farm at Brinkworth, near Chippenham, after the decision of two brothers farming in partnership to call it a day as no members of the next generation are interested in taking over the farm.

Running to 214 acres, agent Kit Harding reckons, despite the slide in milk prices, the holding could go to a dairy farmer. "There arent a lot on the market at the moment and there are those dedicated to the industry who will see their way through the difficulties and take a long-term view."

Including a period four-bedroom house and a 12:12 Alfa Laval dairy, Pittsland is valued at £1.2m. A further 38 adjoining acres are available if required. &#42