After taking the leap to set up on his own, Heydon Dark of Higher Skewes Farm in Cornwall has won Young Dairy Farmer of the Year at the British Dairying 2022 Cream Awards, after just two years of running his own dairy farm. Growing up on a high-yielding robotic dairy farm, black and white cows were always in Heydon’s future!
Heydon became a herdsman for eight years on a local dairy farm after leaving school at 16 before setting up on his own. His flying herd of 100 milking Holstein/Irish Friesian are milked twice a day and produce an average of 7,500L with average constituents of 4.6% butterfats and 3.5% protein.
With Heydon being the only employee, his business operates on a low-cost system with an emphasis on efficient grazing and utilising forage.
The NWF Agriculture Goldstar 18 ration is a maize and SBP based diet, containing NWF’s protected protein and protected fats to suit the requirements of high yielding dairy herds. The ration has been specifically formulated to promote yields and reproductive health.
Although there are many benefits of rearing replacement heifers, the flying herd system is currently working well at Higher Skewes Farm, allowing the farm to be run efficiently, “One day I may transition and rear replacements, but for now, the labour and cost-saving elements of not rearing calves outweigh this”, Heydon comments.
“Since making the switch to NWF feed a year ago, milk yields have improved from 6,500 to 7,500L. Heydon states. “Working as a herdsman for eight years before going alone helped me gain experience and increase my knowledge which has helped me get to where I am today. I have also received support from Andrew Mason, NWF Southern Sales Director, who has helped me manage the herd from a nutritional point which has been a major part of the continued yield improvement”.
In terms of the future, Heydon says, “I would love to continue expanding my herd in an efficient manner, continuing the ethos of my lower cost system, focusing on keeping costs to a minimum whilst maximising output and yields from grazing and grass forage”.
“Over the next five years I can only see the dairy industry getting stronger, although alternatives are becoming more readily available, questions regarding the sustainability of these are becoming more prevalent, along with a great understanding of the fantastic nutritional benefits of cow’s milk”, concludes Heydon.
NWF Agriculture would like to congratulate Heydon on winning the Young Farmer of the Year award at the British Dairying Cream Awards 2022, and Andrew and the team at NWF wish him and his herd all the best in the future.