Darren Shepherd – Birchills Farm, Hessop, Derbyshire
Darren Shepherd farms 485ha at Birchills Farm in Hessop, Derbyshire. The family run dairy farm has a pedigree Holstein herd, milking 600 cows twice a day and rearing all their own followers, selling any surplus animals through local markets. Current herd numbers stand at 1,300 cows.
The focus of the farm in recent years has been to produce more milk from forage with a programme of changing older grass leys into more productive areas. The 485ha is divided up into grazing and silage land.
“Part of the aim from the investment we are putting into the grassland is to reduce concentrate usage across the farm and achieve higher yields and quality from the forage we produce,” says Mr Shepherd.
One of the challenges, he said, in the early stages was to know where to start. “Being able to choose the correct grass varieties that would be suited to our system and our soils to achieve the maximum potential, required expert advice to get us started.”
The knowledge Mr Shepherd has gained by having professional advice has been invaluable, and this isn’t just down to sowing the right grass varieties, but also the various cultivation techniques that he has now adopted.