During the summer months, the cows are out at grass in the paddocks around the farm. They can roam back to the farmyard whenever they choose for extra feed, water or to stretch their legs.
During winter, the cows are housed in large and airy straw yards with a large outside space where they have access to water, feed and even a hairbrush, plus lots of space to wander around and express natural behaviour.
Over the winter months, the cows are fed on grass silage, maize silage and wholecrop wheat or barley, which we grow on the farm, plus brewers grains from a local brewery, minerals and rapemeal.
98.5% of the feed we use is now sourced in the UK, with 80% grown here on the farm. We do not feed our cows on soya.
Milk yield is 6000L per cow at 6% fat and 4% protein. The milk is sold to Longley Farm, Holmfirth, Huddersfield, where it is used to make various products including butter, cream, yoghurt and cottage cheese. We also sell milk directly through our vending machines just 1 mile away in Elvington and at a local farm shop The Balloon Tree located 7 miles away in Gate Helmsley.
The cows calve all year round and dry cows are fed a transitional diet for the final three weeks before calving.
Calves and Youngstock
The calves are reared in individual hutches bedded with deep straw. This keeps them warm and healthy and enables us to give them individual care and attention. In winter the calves wear jackets to keep them extra warm. Once they are old enough, the calves move into small groups in straw yards. Our year-old heifers graze meadows on the outskirts of York during the summer months. Most of the heifers stay with the same group their whole lives.
As soon as it is born, every calf is given a name and number and we try not to use the same name twice – quite a challenge after 50 years!
Breeding and Genetics
We breed cows to be productive, healthy and long lasting. We are currently calving in heifers by DJ Broiler, VJ Link, Chilli Action Colton and Rowleys 11 Visionary Chili. Calves are by Lemonhead Devinci, Citation A, Elliots Recency Casino, Dutch Hollow Oliver P. We also sire with Aberdeen Angus and Belgium Blue Bulls.
We work closely with our vet to ensure our cows are as healthy as possible and prevent any heath issues occurring whenever we can. Our current herd health status is as follows
- TB 4 area last test January 2019
- BVD Free Registered – annual vaccination and 3x yearly testing
- Lepto full herd vaccination annually
- IBR milk monitored (no incidences)
- Johnes quarterly milk test – Herdwise Screening programme
Awards and Recognition
The herd has won many awards over the years.
Most recently we have had great success at Driffield show 2019 with Champion Cow, Champion Dry Cow (pictured left), Champion Calf (pictured right) and Champion In calf heifer. Our champion cow Greyleys Broiler Tidechange (Ex 91) (pictured centre) went on to be Reserve Breed Champion.
We are pleased to have been awarded the Challenge Cup for best cows and heifers judged on inspection at the Yorkshire Country Milk Recording Herd Competition 2018.
We’re very proud to have been awarded North Regional Winner in the Genus Longlife Cow Awards in both 2014 and 2015 for cows in their 11th lactation, which is great recognition for our strong breeding and herd health.
Our pedigree herd has 68 cows with a classification score of Very Good or Excellent, and still includes strong families dating back from the original heifers including Del Ivory, Annette and Gem.
Greyleys Olympus Beryl. Classifed VG 86 3rd lactation;
Greyleys Broiler Tidechange. Classified EX91 in her 3rd lactation