Farm Ireland

Tuesday 24 October 2017

8,000-cow dairy farm planned for UK

Caitriona Murphy

Caitriona Murphy

AN AMBITIOUS trio of Lincoln-shire farmers are awaiting planning permission approval to develop Britain's biggest ever dairy farm with 8,100 cows.

The £50m Nocton Dairies project will be more than four times the size of the largest existing British herd and will be based on a 2,500ac farm owned by Robert Howard, Peter Willes and David Barnes.

Producing 250,000l of milk daily for the East Midlands market, the dairy unit will use two rotary milking parlours.

The cows will be housed in open-sided, sand-bedded sheds when milking, with dry cows grazed outside.

Accounting for close to 1pc of the national liquid milk production, the 'super dairy' will employ 85 staff, including a vet on site full-time.

The Nocton Dairies cows will be bought in as heifers and managed in herds of 500 cows, with the total number built up over a number of years.

The three farmers involved currently import heifers from Germany but hope to develop the on-farm breeding operation quickly. The cows will also be crossbred with beef bulls to produce beef-type calves for the beef and veal market.

The cows will be fed on lucerne, a leguminous forage crop that requires no chemical nitrogen, and maize.

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Agreements have been reached with local farmers for forage production and slurry spreading on 21,000ac in the region.

Slurry will also be processed through an on-farm anaerobic digester to generate 2MW of electricity -- enough to power the dairy and over 2,000 homes.

Nocton Dairies plans to incorporate a visitor centre and a website, which will offer live webcams of the daily running of the farm.

The farmer consortium was hoping to receive planning permission in early May, begin construction immediately and start milking the first cows by the end of the year.

However, planning approval is by no means guaranteed, amid mounting opposition from animal welfare groups.

Nocton Dairies was recently forced to cancel a local public meeting due to the threat of disruption by animal welfare campaigners.

Irish Independent