Flintshire farm announced as first Welsh strategic dairy farm

A dairy farm in Flintshire has been named as the first AHDB strategic dairy farm in Wales.

Run by John and Anna Booth as part of a shared farming partnership, Rhual Dairy is an all-year-round-calving herd with 336 Holstein Friesian cows.

By becoming a strategic dairy farm, Rhual Dairy will host on-farm events, sharing best practice as well as technical and financial performance against AHDB’s key performance indicators.

John Booth said he was “really pleased” to be asked to be the first strategic dairy farm for Wales.

“We are hoping that by becoming a strategic farm, it will enable us to pay more attention to key performance indicators and help us achieve our business goals through listening to other farmers and other industry professionals,” he explained.

John and Anna Booth both graduated from Harper Adams in 1997 where they studied Agriculture with Animal Science.

John became an assistant farm manager on an estate and Anna became a dairy specialist for an independent dairy company.

John and Anna Booth

In 2001, they decided to move up from Dorset to Mold to start a share farming partnership with John’s father and the neighbouring farm, Rhual Farm Partnership.

The share farming partnership started with 250 dairy cows producing an average of 7,200L/cow/year and now currently milk 336 cows, producing an average of 8,400L/cow/year.

They aim to increase milk yield, litres produced from forage, improve transition cow management and reduce antibiotic usage, all of which will be covered in their on-farm meetings.

Anna said: “We installed a new parlour in 2006, along with a slurry store, which gave us the opportunity to increase cow numbers and help us achieve our target of lifting cow yields to over 9,000L/cow.

“We also found becoming a member of the discussion group The Udder Group helps us focus more on the cost of production through benchmarking.

“Over the last 12 months, we have improved our transition and calving cow housing, along with renewables in the form of solar PV and thermal, which will hopefully help us improve our performance, along with cow comfort.”

Rhual Dairy is the first strategic dairy farm to be recruited in Wales as part of the Dairy Improvement Programme, which is funded through the Welsh Government Rural Communities – Rural Development Programme 2014-2020.

Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs Minister Lesley Griffiths added: “AHDB’s strategic farms initiative will have long term benefits for the Welsh dairy industry and in particular at a challenging time as we prepare to leave the European Union. I am therefore delighted Rhual Dairy in Flintshire has become the first Strategic Farm in Wales.

Strategic farms complement our Farming Connect services to provide greater opportunities for farmers to learn from each other and showcase best practice.

“This will help our dairy farmers become more efficient and reduce their costs by producing more milk from forage and reducing the impact of disease.”