Stories from the farms
One of Delamere’s goat’ milk farmers was named ‘Dairy Farmer of the Year 2019’ in a move that acknowledges the role of goat farmers in the UK’s dairy industry.
Will, whose dairy goat farm is on the Dorset/ Somerset border, has been a regular, trusted supplier to Delamere Dairy for over seven years. Our MD, Ed Salt, said of Will, “Will is an exemplary farmer producing milk of the highest standard. We value all our long-term relationships with our farmers and foster collaborative working practices that benefit all parties. It is fantastic that his approach has been recognised by the dairy industry and it’s a milestone for the goats’ milk industry to be acknowledged in this way.”
A day in the life of Will, a Delamere Farmer
Life starts early here. Andrew, Adam and Claire our herds people start at 5am in the morning. They have a quick check to make sure that any kids born overnight are given some bottle fed colostrum which gives them a vital start in life.
We on the other hand need a rest and bed, checking the goats for the final time at 10 pm and looking forward to bed and counting goats in our sleep!!.
The goats are really keen to get into milking as they are given some food to eat while they are milked for their wholesome delicious goats’ milk.
A day in the life of Phil, a Delamere Farmer
It’s 4.50am and I am woken by the sound of the alarm clock drilling into my consciousness. As I lay there I dwell on the fact that this has to be the worst part about being a goat farmer. After a quick brew and a bowl of porridge made with goats’ milk it only takes a minute to walk down the yard to the farm buildings, a commute many people would be envious of!
In the goat shed there are 6 separate pens of goats, which we milk in the same order every day. I open the gate making sure they don’t knock me over as they run past to get to the parlour. Meg the farm dog runs to the far end of the pen to bring up the rear and some of them stop as they pass me as if to say “Good morning” – well I hope that’s what they are saying!
The next three hours are probably the busiest of the day, the goats have to be milked, fresh feed put out and clean bedding put down. In addition, all the young goats that are being reared have to be checked, fed and bedded, and the baby kids have to be fed. These tasks are shared by my wife Trish and sons Joseph and James. By 8am we are all heading in for a well-earned breakfast. Our two full time staff arrive at 8am and go to another holding we have a mile up the road to feed the young goats that we keep there. The females will enter the milking herd and the males go for meat at around 9 months of age.
We’ve been farming goats for 14 years and on reflection it’s amazing how much things have changed. There is currently a lot of discussion about sustainability and the impact that agriculture has on the climate. Our agricultural industry contributes 10% to UK greenhouse gas emissions (transport contributes 26%). The good news is that our industry is executing a plan that will see agriculture achieve net zero emissions by 2040.
On our farm we have installed LED lights that have reduced electricity consumption and a robotic feeding system that has reduced diesel usage by 50%. A wind turbine has been installed that supplies around 40% of our electricity. We also have plans to install solar panels and battery storage that will allow us to generate all our own green energy.
On the livestock side we are trialling a product that is estimated to cut methane emissions from the goats by 30%. We are also looking at our crop rotations to see what adjustments can be made to increase carbon absorption. For example reducing the area of short term forage crops like wheat, and replacing them with long term grass leys that lock up far more carbon. When it comes to our climate change responsibilities agriculture is facing up to them and coming up with solutions as fast as it can.
After lunch the vet arrives to review our health plan which is done annually and is the guiding blueprint for the goats’ health management. Whilst on the farm she looks at all the goats, and is pleased with what she sees. In the meantime my sons have started the afternoon milking.
It’s 8.30pm and I am doing the evening rounds of checking the goat sheds to make sure all the animals are well and there are no problems. It takes a lot of hard work and commitment to look after the animals in such a way that they are healthy, contented and productive. Looking at healthy animals has to be one of the best things about goat farming, and the icing on the cake has to be that they are also providing a future for my two sons.
It takes a lot of hard work and commitment to look after the animals in such a way that they are healthy, contented and productive. Looking at healthy animals has to be one of the best things about goat farming.