Kinch family to share benefits of block calving

Published 1 May 18

Phil Kinch With Cows CroppedAutumn block calvers the Kinch family based on the Oxfordshire-Gloucestershire border have been recruited as AHDB’s latest strategic dairy farm.

Complementing the existing strategic farms in Leicestershire, Cheshire and Devon, the farm will showcase best practice, host open events and share key block calving benchmarking data.

Building upon AHDB’s optimal dairy systems approach, the strategic farm programme enables farmers to learn from farmers operating similar production systems.

Speaking about their selection Phil Kinch, who manages the farm in partnership with his wife and parents, said: “Opening ourselves up to external challenge as a strategic farm will help keep us focused and challenge us to do better as well as giving us the opportunity to speak to other farmers who are looking to improve.”

The farm has been in the family for 75 years and supported an autumn calving herd before an outbreak of digital dermatitis in 2003 caused fertility to drop and a drift into all year round calving followed.

The Kinch’s switch back to autumn calving started in 2012, taking two years through a combination of extending dry periods and tightening calving patterns. Their hard work paid off as the herd is currently made up of 360 autumn calving cows, with an increasing number of Norwegian Red and Flekveigh cross.

Phil continued: “We also hope it’ll raise our profile since recruiting good staff is a challenge. We’re fortunate to have Ben Redman as our herd manager as he’s been instrumental in us achieving a 6 week calving rate of 86% and a herd replacement rate of 22%.”

Buscot Wick Farm, just off the M4 near Swindon, consists of 1,000 hectares - a quarter of which is committed to dairy, including a 67 hectare grazing platform, with the remainder given over to arable.

“I hope that people will see that block calving can make dairy farming more interesting, efficient and less stressful because of the distinct periods during the year” concluded Phil.

Izak van Heerden AHDB Senior Knowledge Exchange Manager said: “I’m delighted to welcome Phil Kinch on board as our latest strategic farm. We know that a number of farmers are making the switch or thinking about autumn block calving so it’s fantastic that we have a top performing farm for them to learn from and benchmark against.”

“We’re aiming to have nine farms spread across GB representing a mix of all year round and block calvers. We’re still looking for good autumn block calvers to join the programme so please get in touch if you’d like to get involved.” continued Izak.

A launch meeting will take place at Buscot Wick Farm on 11 July 2018.

Farmers can follow the Strategic Dairy Farm programme here.