08 Feb 2021

Farmer Focus: Sevenoaks Holsteins

Located in the heart of mid-Wales near Brecon is the Sevenoaks pedigree herd of Holstein’s along with a few Jersey’s and Brown Swiss.  The 200-acre farm has been in the family for over 100 years.  Matt Sevenoaks, along with his father Phil, and partner Hannah run the business together. They are also helped by Matt's sister Lucy when she is not studying.

In 2017 the Welsh Government introduced funding support for dairy farmers to milk record herds, something the family applied for following a period of not recording. They milk record monthly using the DIY option made easier following the recent installation of a new 16-unit Dairymaster Swiftflo fast exit parlour in a new dairy including new collecting yard and bulk tank.

“We use the monthly DIY milk recording package from CIS as it suits our system and helps us keep the cost down. On receipt of the results, I pay particular attention to the butterfat percentages, our average butterfat is 4.32%, partly due to the milk contract obligations.  I also check the cell count to keep an eye on any potential mastitis problems.  The CIS YourHerd web programme is excellent as all data in one place and synchronises with the MobileHerd app.  I use several of the reports to identify any trends, in particular, the action list report and the dry cow list” says Matt.

CIS Area Manager Emma Young arranges for their milk samples to be delivered and collected from the farm before being sent for processing at the laboratory in Telford. Milk recording helps make informed decisions about the future herd from feeding to breeding. There are a number of packages offered by CIS from the simple DIY system used by Matt to a full milk recorder service at an interval to suit all needs. Routine testing of all individual in milk cows provides results for lactose levels as well as butterfat, protein, urea and SCC. 

Matt uses the MobileHerd app, which links to the secure web-based YourHerd programme, out on the farm for tracking individual animals data which he finds especially useful during PD sessions along with recording on and off-farm movements. The app also now features a Treatment page which links to the Medicine Book on YourHerd and enables record medicines and treatments to be recorded whilst out with the herd.

The herd run an autumn block calving system between August and November which suits both the farm and their milk contract.  Feeding grass silage and a ration in and out of the parlour the cubicle housed herd are milked twice daily with an 8,000-litre average.  The health status of the herd is important, and they use the CIS Health testing service testing to achieve this.

Future plans for Matt and Phil include investment in a new silage pit and renovation and extension of the cubicle shed.  They are also just looking to start using the milk sample PregCheck service, they are doing this to identify cows in calf sooner to try to tighten their autumn block calving system. They are optimistic that Brexit will be positive for the dairy industry and farmers, but importantly educating of the public as to where food comes from must remain a priority.