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NMR Gold cup win for Michael Eavis
July 3, 2014

Glastonbury Festival founder Michael Eavis has collected the NMR/RABDF Gold Cup at the Livestock Event in Birmingham.

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Michael Eavis pictured with the NMR Gold Cup (valued at in excess of £100,000-dependant on the current price of gold)

The announcement, at Birmingham’s NEC, comes days after the Glastonbury festival ended and as hundreds of volunteers clean up for the return of the cows.

A large part of the credit or the award, run by dairy information company NMR and the Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers, goes to herd manager John Taylor, who, with Mr Eavis, has made significant changes to the operation.

“We used to operate as a flying herd, buying in all our heifers, but it just created too many problems with disease and cows not settling in,” Mr Taylor said before today’s announcement.

“So about eight years ago we started keeping our own replacements using a contract rearer, and now we’ve brought it all in-hand.”

And they put a lot of effort into getting these young calves off to a good start. All new born calves get colostrum within the first five or six hours of birth, and are fed colostrum for the next four or five days. Calf health has been improved with a new calf shed and netting put up to stop starlings feeding, which has reduced diseases like Salmonella.

Heifers are grown to calve at two years old and sexed semen is used for two cycles before sweeping up with an Angus bull. “We are looking to use bulls high in productive life,” he adds. “We use 50 per cent proven sires and 50 per cent genomic sires and look carefully at health traits as the cows have high production genes, but low health traits.”

Average production for the year ending September 2013 – the judging period – was 12,101kg of milk at 3.96 per cent fat and 3.11 per cent protein on twice a day milking. The herd’s average lifetime daily yield was 15.39kg.

“We try to keep our system simple with as few diet changes as possible,” says Mr Taylor. “But the biggest change has been growing more maize for the milking cows. We used to feed apple pomace as it was free from cider makers – but it’s very acid. We had to balance it with bicarbonate, and since we’ve swapped it for maize it’s transformed the health of the cows.”

As the music festival takes over the whole farm in June each year, maize is grown on contract, and the cows are housed on sawdust and shavings over mats for most of the year.

Energy efficiency is also important, with a large roof-mounted solar array reducing electricity costs, and spring water slashing water bills, he adds. “We’re still in the middle of major changes and really want to push cow numbers from 385 to 500. We’ve got plenty of room to do this, and are looking at options to increase milking frequency.”

GlastonburywebMichael Eavis founded and hosts  the legendary Glastonbury festival


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