It recognises that animals like consistency, and as a result believes its cows should be able to enjoy the perfect day, everyday of the year, come rain, snow or shine.
“We want every day to be the best it can be,” explains David Cobb. “That means the best cow health, comfort and welfare; the best feed and the best environmental performance, so we can produce the highest quality milk.”
Based at West Chaldon near Dorchester, the farm currently has around 1,100 pedigree dairy cows – the Chalclyffe Herd – 800 of which are at Northground Dairy and a further 350 at nearby Newburgh Dairy.
In 2008 the farm won the prestigious NMR/RABDF Gold Cup, recognising the high standards achieved with the Chalclyffe Herd.
Current milk production extends to around 60,000 pints of top quality milk supplied to Dairy Crest every day. But the long-term goal is to increase cow numbers across two herds to 2,000 and boost production.
While the farm grows a small area of cereal crops, it uses the majority of its 1,400ha to provide high quality grass and maize crops, to ensure cows get consistent forage quality.
“Silage is key ingredient of our feed rations, so we aim to make the highest quality forage possible, with at least 30% dry matter,” he says.
Such a focus on quality means the farm often relies on a tedder to help speed up the grass wilting process. And its latest model is a 10-rotor, 14m Kverneland 85140C bought to replace two smaller machines.
“Weather is everything with silage making,” he says. “And with such a demanding workload, we need to make the most of opportunities when they arise.”
“Before we bought the 14m machine, we had to use two smaller models to keep up with the mower conditioner, so having one larger tedder now frees up a tractor and driver.”
It also gives the ability to cover a large area of grass in a short period of time, making the most of weather conditions. Aiming for a 24-hour wilting period, the tedder is usually 2-3 hours behind the farm’s triple mower combination.
“It is very much a time-critical process,” he says. “If grass is drying too quickly, we’ll hold off.”
“To avoid too much or too little wilting, we do time our silage making quite precisely in the lead up to forage harvesting,” he says. “Predicting the weather and adjusting your processes to suit, is quite a game.”
With 10-rotors, the Kverneland 85140C spans five 3m grass swaths giving the farm an impressive capacity. Output is a comfortable 10ha per hour.
“The wide tedder is a very useful machine and while we don’t always need to ted all our grass, we do have the option to cover a lot of ground very quickly, to make the most of the weather.”
“Silage making is very much a time-critical process,” says David Cobb.
10-rotor, 14m Kverneland 85140C replaces two smaller tedders, boosting output.
JF Cobb and Sons demands the best cow health, comfort and welfare, and the highest quality forage for the Chalclyffe Herd.
23rd June 2014