We all know dairy farms are up there with the worst of them when it comes to environmental pollution. Just think about all those millions of cow pats, let alone the fuel guzzled by the tractors and the food miles clocked up by the tankers taking milk to the big processing plant hundreds of miles away. We’re all too aware of this and we don’t want to be carbon monsters. There’s not a lot we can do about the methane…eh-hem, cows will fart, but we’re doing our best to make up for it in other ways. Call it cowbon-offsetting if you like! (There, we’re allowed one cow-related pun. Boom Boom!)
Here are just some of the ways in which we’re trying to be different:
We recently installed a 50kw solar panel system. On sunny days, the panels produce enough energy to power our whole farm. We only take energy from the national grid on really dreary days.
We’ve harnessed the natural heat extracted from the fresh warm cows milk as it goes through the cooling system and we use it to help heat the water used for washing down the milking parlour. Clever eh?
Reduced fuel consumption:
We’re working our hardest to get our cows out to grass more. It’s a slow process as we are changing our breeding programme to a more robust, grass-eating breed of cow, the Montbelliarde. You can see them around the farm, they’re the chubby red and white ones. Changing the breed takes time but we’re moving in the right direction. The more grass they eat, the less fodder has to be grown for them and the less tractors are involved. Of course pastures need management but this takes a lot less machinery and fuel than growing and harvesting arable crops for feed. Within the next 5 years, we hope to see the majority of our herd out to grass for as much of the year as is physically possible. Of course they have to come inside for a bit when the fen’s flooded during the winter, or when it’s just too cold for the grass to grow but working with the good British climate, we are doing what we can.
Reduced food miles:
We are not yet able to process all of our milk on the farm. We do however make sure that our beef animals are slaughtered and sold locally and of course our raw drinking milk has only travelled a few metres from milking parlour to cow-print-shed, before you buy it. Our dream for the future is to be able to make all of our milk into dairy products on the farm. Just watch this space!