04 Jul 2018

Farmer Focus: M & MB Davies and JM & BS Jones, Monmouthshire

For over 25 years Jeff and Sian Jones have been farming at Storefield Farm near Magor, Monmouthshire.

They farm around 200 acres overlooking the Severn Bridge and Bristol Channel and the farm is home to Larchwood and Chequers Holsteins. The Larchwood herd comprises 120 pedigree Holstein cows and 110 followers, whilst the Chequers herd is a nucleus group of high genetic animals owned by their daughter Carys. Jeff and Sian opted to re-enter the dairy industry in 2012 after dispersing the Larchwood herd following the foot and mouth crisis, and have clear goals for the future development of their business.

On their return to dairying, the Jones family have invested heavily in farm buildings with an emphasis on cow comfort and management efficiency. The cows and heifers are housed all year round to minimise TB and maximise production. The two main buildings are fitted with 200 sand cubicles and self locking yokes, which provide health and welfare benefits as well as ease of management. Cows are milked twice daily through an 8:16 herringbone parlour and are fed a TMR of maize and grass silage mixed with a protein blend and brewers grains. Milk is sold to Wyke Farms and the herd is all year round calving, averaging 33 litres a day.

With over 40% of milking animals in their first lactation, Larchwood & Chequers Holsteins is an incredibly young herd that prioritises genetic progress whilst maintaining a high level of production. The Jones family have invested in different pedigrees to diversify the genetic pool within the herd, and routinely flush top animals to establish cow family numbers. The herd average over 87 points and in the last 3 classifications have produced an impressive 36 homebred VG-2yr olds. Heifers are genomically tested based on pedigree merit, and all AI and bull selection is managed in house. Current bulls in the flask include All Nure Secretariat, Delaberge Pepper, Stantons Chief, Kerndtway Kingpin, Lirr Drew Dempsey and Rubicon Agronaut.

Jeff and Sian have been using the CIS Complete Pedigree Package service for the last 6 years. The package includes monthly milk recording, registrations by phone or online, fertility and health recording, two type classification visits per year and access to cow mating tools including WebMate and Bull Selector. Through the online portal Your Herd and the app MobileHerd they have 24 hour access to all animal information and can update data as and when required.

Commenting on the package, Jeff says, "Holstein Complete is the most cost effective way of milk recording, classifying and health testing the herd. High health status is key for our marketing and private heifer sales, and risk of diseases such as BVD or Johne’s can directly impact on business performance."

Jeff and Sian continually review their business model, and in an industry that is increasingly moving towards economies of scale, they are aiming to increase cow numbers by bringing all replacement heifers into the milking herd. With a 10,000kg herd average firmly in sight and some quality youngstock already in the system, the future at Larchwood & Chequers Holsteins looks promising!