Andrew Robinson keeps around 300 dairy cows and 50 beef cattle on his 650-acre Wigtownshire farm. The farm is mostly pasture, although he grows some cereals for feed, depending on the market. The cows block-calve in the spring and autumn and around 80 are kept as “followers”, going back into the dairy herd. Andrew has three full-time staff and a relief worker.
The cows are predominantly Holstein Friesian, and Andrew has started to introduce Viking Red to improve the herd’s health and reduce antibiotic use.
The Robinsons converted to organic production in 2006 as they wanted to add value to their product; they could see that consumers were keen to know that their cows are kept in good conditions and able to exhibit natural behaviour. Their organic milk is sold to Muller, which is widely available in supermarkets.
When converting to organic they reduced their stocking rate to compensate for the initial drop in grass quality. It took a year or two for the grass to adjust to not having artificial nitrogen applied and for nitrogen-fixing clover to become established. They now maintain healthy pasture naturally, using slurry from the farm. The parlour is powered and heated by a wind turbine and biomass boiler.
There is plenty of wildlife on the farm; red squirrels have started to come back to the woods and there is an otter and kingfisher on the river.