FW Awards 2010 winner: Farmworker of the Year


John Adams

Iron Pear Tree Farm, Wiltshire

Sponsored by Isuzu

At 63 years old, John Adams has the stamina and determination of someone half his age. He gets up at 1am to milk the cows at Iron Pear Tree Farm in a twice daily milking routine. It’s challenging hours in these modern times, but his commitment to the welfare of the 200 Holstein cows in his care is netting a whopping £2000 margin over concentrate a cow at Adrian White’s tenanted farm in Rowde, Wiltshire.

And of all the investments that Mr White has made on the farm he is quick to point out that John is, without doubt, his best.

In the 25 years that John has been on the farm milk output has moved from 5000 to more than 10,000 litres a cow with more than one-third of the milk produced from forage. Grass, maize and whole-crop wheat silage are fed in equal proportions. Each type of forage is placed in individual ring feeders outside the cubicle shed. The cows love whole-crop wheat, says John. “It turns their stomach up nice – and gives them an appetite.”

John then adds 3kg of concentrate blend a cow, topped up with cake in the parlour according to yield. The achievement of reaching £2000 margin over concentrate a cow has been acknowledged as a first in its practice by consultant nutritionist Green & Kelly.

John is committed to keeping feed quality high and costs down. There are no expensive telehandlers in the yard. John uses a large tractor and fore end loader to place the forage in ordinary feeders within the yard and he feeds all the cows and youngstock by himself. He’s usually finished by 6.30am so the same tractor is then used for field work.

After milking, the cows are free to stay in the cubicle shed or wander into the yard to feed and then move out into the field. And if contentment and looks are anything to go by his feeding and welfare regime is clearly paying dividends; on the judges’ visit the cows that had decided to stay inside the cubicle shed were remarkably calm and relaxed.

In all the years that John has been looking after the herd, there has been never been a cow with a displaced abomasum, says Adrian. “It’s extraordinary – our other herd averages about 20 cows a year.” He puts it down to John’s attention to detail to ensure that each cow has minimum stress, maximum comfort and top quality forage.

The milk goes to Cadbury for 26p/litre which, with the yields John is achieving, must make it one of the most profitable dairy herds in the country.


• 200ha dairy farm

• 200 milking Holstein cows

• Delivering a margin of £2000 a cow

• Milk output moved from 5000 to more than 10,000 litres a cow


• Dedication to cow welfare and output

• Respect from farm staff and manager

• Focused on high productivity and low costs

• Invaluable experience


Meurig-RaymondJohn’s dedication and love for his cows is delivering a huge amount to the farm business. Very few dairy herds are achieving margin of £2000

Meurig Raymond


william-brownFarmworkers are the unsung heroes of British farming and these three individuals epitomise the dedication, skills and innovation that are the backbone of the industry.

William Brown


wilson• Alastair Wilson

• Maggots Nook Farm, Lancashire

Alastair is lead mechanic and technology guru on a veg growing and packing enterprise. At 23, and the youngest son in this £12.5m turnover family business, he has already made a mark on mechanical efficiency

gate• Steven Gate

• Brackenburgh Home Farms, Cumbria

Steven clearly loves his role as arable foreman and is meticulous in everything he does, which reinforces Brakenburgh’s proud reputation for producing high quality crops. He is always finding ways to improve what he does