New dairy herd, East Devon
As a nation, the UK is not self-sufficient in dairy products, relying heavily on imports from New Zealand, Australia and American. The number of dairy farms in the UK has been declining fast; from 19,000 in 2002 to under 11,000 in 2011.
In the East Devon parishes of Colaton Raleigh and East Budleigh, milk production has halved from 6.5million litres in 2000 to just 3.5 litres in 2012 – a direct result of local dairy farms closing because they are no longer viable.
It is only by increasing the scale of domestic production that our level of self-sufficiency can be increased.
In order to increase milk production in East Devon through economies of scale, Clinton Farms are investing in a new herd of 250 Friesian cows and a new herdsman to look after them. Our organic animals yield around 6,500 litres of milk a year, so with three herds of 250 cows, managed by three herdsmen, we can produce around 4.8million litres of local organic milk a year.
The new herd will use the existing milking parlour at Otter Dairy as well as the nearby slurry storage facilities – a 20,000 cubic metre lagoon to which slurry is piped and stored and spread on the land at the appropriate time of year, replacing the need to buy nitrogen fertiliser. The only infrastructure investment is winter housing for the period between December to March when the weather is bad and there is insufficient grazing.