Farmer Focus: Exciting research into dairy goats

We finished planting winter cereals in the first week of November and passed our annual cattle TB test the same week.

This allowed us to sell some eight-month-old weaned calves to a farmer who has a supermarket contract for finished Welsh Black cattle, at the same price as last year of £1.95kg liveweight.

We had some interesting visitors this month. Dimitri Houtart, BBC rural affairs champion – responsible for Farming Today and all rural news items on TV and radio, visited.

He stopped here on his way to the NFU Cymru conference. He said as an industry we need to be more proactive in getting our message out in the media.

See also: How Irish dairy farmers established a sheep milk business

Water quality

We also hosted a local group of farmers with a view to improving water quality in the Trothy river catchment, as the phosphate and sedimentation levels are persistently too high.

Measures such as fencing off water courses and strategic tree planting were encouraged to help reduce these levels.

Our own Dimitri passed his trailer test recently. He has been using 10t silage trailers and bale trailers but needed to pass a test to tow the stock trailer. He had a busy week.

I had a day shooting with an old college friend in Cheshire, and then caught up with other Harper friends at Cheltenham races countryside day. Now I need to knuckle down and catch up on some fencing and foot-trimming.

Goat research 

Bristol University have appointed a PhD student to carry out a three-year study into dairy goat topics, partly funded by a small levy on goat milk producers. It will give us valuable information on what has been a very neglected area of research.

Unfortunately, one of the leaders of the goat industry, who helped get this off the ground has sadly passed away. Roger Sutton milked goats and then established the successful Delamere Dairies goat’s milk processor.

Roger was a great character who always had time for anyone. Despite the fact I supply a competitor, he was always very encouraging to me. My condolences to all his family and the team at Delamere.

Gary and Jess Yeomans run a herd of 700 milking goats across 100ha, which supplies a local cheese factory. They also own a small pedigree Welsh Black suckler herd to graze permanent pasture in Monmouthshire.