At Henden we are focused on producing milk of the highest possible quality whilst achieving particularly high standards of staff and animal welfare as well as looking after our local environment. Happy cows and happy staff together with thoughtful work will allow us to have a dairy farm that is sustainable for the long term through the economic cycles.
To support these aims all of the operating staff together with their families are housed in good quality houses on the Estate and are paid well compared to their peers in the industry. Over the period 2010 to 2016 more than £3 million was spent improving the facilities for the cows, the treatment of waste, the storage of food and to make operations that much safer. More investment is required in the future to improve some of our other facilities.
In 2012, the decision was taken to make the Henden herd a closed herd. This means that we do not buy livestock in, we grow our own. This greatly reduces the chance of disease being imported such as BVD, Johnes’s disease, IBR, infectious Mastitis, infectious causes of lameness and TB. Our breeding is focused on the health and welfare traits, which should see a cumulative permanent improvement in the quality and robustness of our herd, whilst not compromising milk yield.
Over the past four years we have been considering how big our herd should be. The common view is that the larger the scale of the business the better the economics. Like all broad-brush statements this is not always true. In our case we have decided that our farm and estate can comfortably handle a herd of some 260-280 cows. We believe that handling more cows would take the farm outside its comfort zone. The housing capacity for cows would be pushed, milking times would get longer and the land we own would be challenged to cope with the supply of food required and to absorb the waste produced.