Coton Wood Farm, Derbyshire

Published 7 August 18

Michael and Tony Ball farm in partnership with their parents, who purchased the farm in 1977, and together they run a 500-strong herd across two sites operating an all year round calving system. 

Three years ago a major investment was made into robots to increase cow numbers from 200 to 500IMG_1255 with the intention of making milk in the most efficient way possible with particular emphasis on cow comfort and welfare.

They now produce 9,000 litres per cow per year on their 750 acres farm and are looking to optimise their system to reach 10,000 litres.

Originally autumn block calvers, the brothers faced increasing competition for labour and decided to move to all year round calving with the installation of eight Lely robots in 2014, to manage the milking process. Completed in April 2016, the transition was complemented with automatic silage pushers, scrapers and calf feeders.

Commenting on their appointment, the brothers said “We are really excited to have been chosen as a strategic dairy farm. We want to share our experiences with other farmers and are hoping that becoming a strategic farm will focus our business direction and enable us to pay more attention to key performance indicators”.


Key Performance Indicators

Our Optimal Dairy Systems program defined a set of measures and targets, which enable us to show how the farm performs against good, average and poor performers. 

Dairy Enterprise KPIs

Good performance

Average performance

Poor performance

Coton Wood Farm

Pregnancy rate 





Age at first calving 

24 months

27 months

>30 months


Total purchased feed costs 

<8 pence per litre

pence per litre

>10 pence per litre


Average daily lifetime yield 

>13.6 litres/day

11.8 litres/day

<9.8 litres/day


Overheads (excluding rent and finance) as a proportion of dairy income 





Genetic Merit 

 <25th percentile 50th percentile >75th percentile  10th


Financial KPIs

Good performance

Average performance

Poor performance

Coton Word Farm

Full economic costs of production





Return on tenants-type capital 





Income retained 





To see KPI definitions and access our online calculator to benchmark your own performance click here.