02 Dec 2016
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Farmer Focus: Abi Reader

Abi Reader farms at Goldsland Farm near Cardiff and she is now the 3rd generation of the family to farm. The dairy herd consists of 190 Holstein and Shorthorn cattle – as well as a flock of 200 Polled Dorset sheep. As part of ‘Glastir’ (Welsh Environmental Scheme), the Shorthorn breed brings in a lot of points to the scheme due to it being a rarer breed. The farm is run on an all year-round calving system, although block calving is being considered. The cows are milked twice-a-day. They are fed a TMR diet and are paddock grazed in the summer.

A new 20:20 GEA Westfalia parlour was installed 18 months ago. This investment has made significant efficiency advances to the farm and vacuum levels have improved resulting in 70% less mastitis. Abi has also noticed mobility improvements due to parlour design and cows having to stand for less time during milking.

The farm uses a variety of CIS services including milk recording, health testing, Your Herd and Mobile Herd. Abi says; “I am a huge fan of the Mobile Herd app and everything that it brings to my business. I use it daily to gain animal information instantly, at the touch of a button. The app is so simple to use – I couldn’t be without it.”

Opening her farm to the public is something Abi is keen to do as part of her drive to educate, engage and enthuse consumers about farming. For the last 3 years Abi has participated in Open Farm Sunday, with years 2 and 3 attracting around 2,000 visitors to the farm. Neighbouring farmers and local YFC members all support Abi on the day; all part of the drive to educate and raise awareness about farming.

Abi has not only opened her farm to the public but has decided to go that extra mile to converse her passion of our industry; she has decided to take the countryside to urban schools. One highlight this year was visiting a primary school in a low income area of London.

Abi says; “Once when visiting a primary school in London we explained how grain is milled to make flour and during a practical session showing the milling process, we were asked by one child if we were magicians because we could make something turn into something else!

 I would encourage any farmer to head to their local village school and help to raise awareness about what we do day in, day out. Farming is a way of life for us – but still there are children that don’t even know where milk comes from! Children love visiting farms and I try to educate about the association between good farming practice and buying the ‘Red Tractor’ label. If children can understand and make the link from farm to fork, they can use it in their daily lives; it is therefore all for the good of our industry.”

Abi adds: “It is vital that we educate the public about farming – the more positive media exposure we can obtain the better. I am proud to be part of the British farming industry and we need to shout about why our farming industry is a global leader in terms of welfare and quality. There are over 10,000 dairy producers in Great Britain - if we all visited one school a year imagine the difference we could make.”