Defiant dairy farm pulls off a double
- Credit: Archant
An Essex dairy farmer struggling against low milk prices enjoyed a moment of cheer today as his family’s cattle took top spot in two breed categories at the Suffolk Show.
John Smith, of Smith Farms, Clacton, showed off his Ayrshires, Jerseys and Holsteins at the event - and came away with breed champions’ rosettes in the Any Other Pure Dairy Breed and the Jersey contests.
It was a proud moment for John, dad, Philip, mum, Christine, and sister, Louise. The family recently showed its commitment to a future in dairy with a major investment in a new dairy unit - in the face of a continuing milk price crisis which has beset the industry over the last year.
“I’m absolutely chuffed,” said John. “We run mainly Holsteins and we milk about 230.”
He added: “The only thing we have not won is the overall Holstein.”
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John came back nine years ago to run the farm and deals with the day-to-day running of the farm’s 220 cows.
The family has just put a brand new dairy unit to replace an outdated one, but times were hard, he admitted.
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“It’s a real struggle, dairy. But we do this and this is why we are doing it. We are struggling - I’m not going to lie. We have just invested £1million in the unit. We had to start again. We had to do it to survive. We couldn’t stay in the old unit, me and my father.”
Through modernising, the family has been able to increase yields to combat the low price.
“We only need one more person for double the amount of cows. That’s how we are surviving at the moment, and the sheer volume of milk we are producing.
“But it’s getting to crunch point literally how we can survive. We rely on that milk cheque every month to pay our bills.”
The winning Ayrshire, which produces 45 litres of milk a day, was “really looking in her prime”, said John.