‘Meticulous’ Oxfordshire herd manager wins national award

Leigh Woolmer of Stuchbury Manor Farm, Banbury has been named Promar’s 2018 Milkminder Manager of the Year.

Leigh, who manages a 160-cow Holstein Friesian herd, on behalf of the 2,000ac Marston St. Lawrence Estates overcame tough competition to scoop the national title.

James Dunn, Promar managing director and judge, said: “Leigh’s attention to detail has been a big driver in the success and technical performance of the herd, which averages 8,966L, with 4% butterfat and 3.2% protein. He uses his 19 years’ experience to achieve great results.”

A rigid five-point parlour routine has been implemented on the farm and Leigh has achieved consistently good milk quality recordings as a result.

Each cow is pre-sprayed, wiped, and stripped before milking, and sprayed again before leaving the parlour.

“This has led to an average somatic cell count from the last 12 months of 86,000/ml, along with a bactoscan of 9,000/ml.”

James added that the health and welfare of the herd is the key priority for the farm.

“The estate invested in a cubicle system around 18 months ago, replacing the previous open pen system in order to further improve udder health, and the results have been significant.

“The cubicles are cleaned twice a day, and scraped as often as possible, which has seen mastitis cases reduced considerably,” he said.

Around four years ago, the farm was also faced with a significant Neospora outbreak, with nearly half the cows aborting in a year.

This was a huge blow for both Leigh and the estate, but he has been determined to tackle the issue with a strict breeding policy.

“Milk testing is carried out before drying off, and any cows that have tested positive are put to beef sires, along with any that may have a history in the dam, to prevent any carryover to the next generation of the herd,” James added.

“Leigh’s technical performance, meticulous standards and eye for detail are a rare commodity, and it’s great to be able to reward a manager who is focused on making the most of his milk to drive the business forward.”