The pedigree Langage Jersey Herd
The pedigree Langage Jersey Herd, from Plympton, has claimed the runner-up spot in the Lily Hill Trophy, a national competition for Jersey herds.
The competition assesses herd management and takes account of a number of other measures relating to environmental and industry promotional activity.
The farm uses a redundant pasteuriser from the dairy (right) for feeding the newly-born calves
The 250 cows at Langage are producing 100,000 litres of milk per month, all of which is used to process the Langage Farm brand of ice-cream, cream, yoghurt, crème fraiche and cottage cheese.
The Jersey milk gives a smoother, fuller, consumer appeal, with Devonshire clotted cream an extra special hit locally, with big demand in the tourist season and at Christmas. Even so, it is icecream which is established nationally with supermarket listings. The business started in 1980 when owners, the Harvey family, started selling clotted cream.
The roots of Langage Farm stretch back a long way – as it is mentioned in the Domesday Book. Now the entire business is committed to becoming self-sufficient in energy use, and explaining the links between food and the environment to both its customers and the local community.
No one can be more passionate about this than Andrew Stead. He has managed the farm for 25 years, and he explained the links between growing the grass, powering the milking parlour with solar energy, and using waste from the food industry of Plymouth to fuel a bio-digester at the dairy-processing factory.
Situated between Plymouth and Dartmoor, he is particularly keen to host school visits. Tasting the icecream is the obvious place to get children's interest. From there the groups move to the farm, where they see the benefit of using the fertiliser by-product from the bio-digester. Grass grows readily in this area and keeping the fertiliser bill down is a real economic advantage.
Mr Stead is working to set up trades with neighbouring arable farmers so that he can swap bio-fertiliser for maize and other animal feed. This will help herd expansion, as a possible move to 400 cows is on the cards. Selling pedigree breeding stock also becomes an option when there are surplus heifers being reared.
For almost three years the farm has used a redundant pasteuriser from the dairy for feeding the newly born calves. Mr Stead has made big strides in improving calf health as a result, and he is convinced this continues into later life, as milking heifers entering the herd are performing better as a result.
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