Farm and Family History
We moved to Manor Farm in 1990 from Thurlstone, hence where the prefix for the herd came from.
In 2006 the decision was made to change breeds from Holsteins to Jerseys. We were looking for a different outlet for the milk to secure the future of the farm. Being situated close to Longley Farm and following discussions with them, we decided Longley would be a suitable future local outlet for our milk and subsequently acquired a contract with them.
Thomas is the 5th generation farmer and took over the management of the farm from his father, John in 2013. Thomas went to Writtle College and completed a BSc Hons in Agriculture and Farm Business Management and is a firm believer in education in Agriculture whether this is through university, college, apprenticeships, training days or hands on experience. Thomas has been married since 2010 to Claire who is the Finance Director for AESSEAL plc. Thomas and Claire have two children Ava (3) and Zara (10 months) who love life on the farm. Thomas and Claire also set up a milk vending machine in June 2016 where they sell their fresh pasteurised Jersey milk which is situated in an outbuilding at the local King William Inn - Manor Farm Jersey Milk. This gives us a little extra for our milk but also allows the public to taste fresh pasteurised milk. To promote farming and to educate the general public we also held an Open Farm Sunday event this year which was a great success.
The farm employs two full time employees, Richard Saxby (Saxown herd) and Josh Szczoczarz and one part time employee Andrew Jennings
We started with 180 jerseys and have now grown to 270 jerseys where we plan to keep the numbers at. We have grown the number of jerseys so that the business could viably employ a full time experienced herdsman to foucs solely on the cows. We have 180 Jersey heifers which will be replacements for our older cows and those having to be culled through our Johne's scheme.
We have access to HLS ground on the adjacent farm so we have a small suckler herd of 20 cows which are a mix of blonde crosses and Hereford crosses. The calves are all grass fed and we sell these to our local butcher and farm shop. We also have beef calves which are Hereford Cross Jersey, which run alongside the Jersey heifers.
We have 163Ha which currently comprises 43Ha of maize for maize silage, (early varieties grown to allow grass to be drilled in Autumn ready for silaging in April), 10Ha of fodder beet, (3Ha is for strip grazing, the remainder is harvested for TMR), 5Ha of Kale for grazing through winter for the spring calving group, 9Ha of Lucerne to cover greening requirements and adds a high protein silage into the cows diet, 9Ha rented out for potatoes with the remainder grass and clover on the grazing mixes.I also run our potato business which was formed in 2003 with the neighbouring farmer to supply Walkers with crisping potatoes growing 32Ha. The company Pro Potts Limited is part of a marketing group Mease Valley Potatoes Limited providing all year round supply of potatoes. This side of the business has grown to supplying 180Ha of potatoes mainly for Walkers Crisps but we also now contracts with KP Crisps, McCains Chips and Tyrells. We are also trialling 8Ha of red beet as we are looking to expand this side of the business further.
We run block calving in Autumn and Spring and are currently on a 380 day calving interval. We vaccinate for Lepto and BVD. We are also in a Johnes Testing scheme, and in an annual TB test area.
The milking parlour is a 20:40 Dairy Master with cows milked twice daily.
Feeding in the Summer is grass based, grazing the cows from February through to November, the cows are on a TMR ration of crimped maize, molasses and straw with enough silage to carry the diet, plus minerals and buffers.
Feeding in the Winter consists of a TMR of grass and maize silage, with lucerne, fodder beet, crimp maize, molasses and proteins.
The dry cows are fed a specific diet that is high in fibre with protein, maize silage, dry cow minerals and magnesium chloride. Generally a 45 to 50 day dry period is allocated, with most cows calving outside where possible.
Service Sires and Selection Criteria
Our bull selection criteria is increasing fat and proteins of the dams. We also only use bulls that have to be Kappa Casein BB, with an emphasis on legs and feet improvement as well as central ligament support. We are part of World Wide Sires mating program to ensure no inbreeding and that our selection criteria matches the particular cows.
Current sires in the flask include; Chilli Action Colton (sexed), Q Zik, Sunset Canyon David, Vermalar Bruce, Sunset Canyon Dimension and FDL Barcelona.
Sexed semen is used on both cows and heifers at the beginning of the service period, then conventional semen and natural service bulls are used to sweep the remainder of the herd.