Farmer Focus Livestock: Andrew Freemantle learns how to get closer to the consumer

Recently I have been away in Canada and the USA as part of my Nuffield Scholarship. I’m looking at how farmers can get “Closer to the Consumer”.

In Indiana, I visited Fair Oaks Farms, which is made up of nine farmers who set up 10, 3000-cow dairy units, all zero grazed. The one I visited had a visitor centre, attracting more than 110,000 people a year, showing their system in a positive light from the comfort of a bus tour around the farm and daily live births in a purpose built theatre.

Interestingly, plans for a similar 9000 unit in this country by Nocton Dairies have just been submitted, also with a visitor centre. I think when you have the confidence to show what you do and be proud about it, the most people will accept intensive agriculture and the plentiful supplies of safe food it brings.

Back on the farm we had a vet visit from John Carr, who is working as a consultant with the practice I use. He suggested that to keep weekly farrowing numbers on target we should serve all sows from each week including culls, then once we have confirmed in pig and we have correct numbers going forward we should cull out any extras. This idea brings to light how important it is to have a full farrowing house each week.

We also picked out the first of our home bred gilts which are 50:50 Large White x Landrace, we now have a full gilt pool so achieving 17 sows/gilts served a week should be possible.

This month we opened a Kenniford catering trailer at Mole Valley Farmers Bridgewater, which despite the cold weather is getting busier. If you use this store then call in to see Joy, she has some tasty baps.

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