Largest UK Dairy Farm Proposed

UK - Designed to a level which the applicants say are beyond the highest environmental and animal welfare standards ever seen in the UK, the largest dairy farm in the UK has been proposed.
calendar icon 10 February 2010
clock icon 2 minute read

Plans have been submitted by Reading Agricultural Consultants Ltd on behalf of Peter Willes, of Parkham Farms in North Devon and Lancashire, David Barnes who manages the herd in Lancashire and Robert Howard, a Lincolnshire arable farmer.

Nocton Dairies Ltd plans to milk over 8000 cows on arable land west of the B1188 at Nocton, south of Lincoln.

The cows will produce up to 250,000 litres of milk a day which will be sold to the East Midlands milk market.

Cows will be housed indoors, in groups of 500 and milked on two 80-point rotary parlours.

Sick, mastitic or lame animals will be split from the herd and kept in seperate housing until they can return to their group.

Dry cows would be kept seperate and put out to grass, moving into the calving area only 2-3 days before they are due.

Cows would be bedded on deep sand, made largely from recycled materials.

With an area of some 21,000 acres available for crop production, the animals will be fed maize, lucerne and whole crop cereals supplied by a cooperative of local farmers. Straights such as sugar beet pulp would also be delivered to the farm daily and fed fresh to cows.

Bull calves would be reared for two to three weeks then sold at local markets for beef production.

Heifer calves would also be sold at local markets, however the company say that there is scope for cooperation with local livestock farmers in heifer-rearing operations.

It is anticipated that 80 new jobs would be created in the area, incuding a fully qualified vet, who would be on site at all times.

The application also includes an anaerobic digester which will produce 2MW of power from farm waste - enough to power the dairy and over 2000 homes.

Mr Howard said: "This is great news for local farmers, nothing this ambitious has been attempted in Western Europe. The British dairy industry has suffered from under-investment in recent years, hopefully this will go someway to reversing this trend.

It is hoped that planning permission will be received in the first week of April and that the first cows will be milked by late September.

Despite the detailed plans in place there are concerns among the industry with regard to how such a large herd will affect milk and stock prices, animal health and disease control as well as the public's perception of agriculture.

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