Simple grass harvest process makes low-cost production easy

Situated just off the A40 near Haverfordwest, Richard and Dawn Lewis and three of their four daughters, Heather, Poppy and Josie, farm some 450 acres, milking 160 Friesians, rearing 100 head of beef and growing cereals for home consumption. It’s not just your everyday farming enterprise, because it’s also home to the highly popular Clerkenhill Farm Adventure Park and Frizbee Golf Centre. With two busy enterprises to run, the entire family are fully employed in every aspect of the operations.

Richard Lewis commented, “We run a very efficient system at Clerkenhill Farm, we don’t employ anyone outside the family and so we adopted a low-cost milk production process that really works well for us.” Typically, the average yield from their Friesians is around 6500 litres, with a 4.2% butterfat and 3.2% protein. The herd is fully grass-fed, paddock grazing from early in the season, depending on the weather and ground conditions. Home-grown barley and cake is fed through the parlour and they use all their own straw to keep the costs down. 

“Because we run a minimal labour input policy,” added Richard, “we use a Pottinger Torro 5100 silage wagon, which means we can harvest the grass, pick-up and return it to the clamp, with just one person operating. The Pottinger is now in its fifth season and has proven to be very reliable and also efficient at chopping the grass, prior to ensiling. It’s fitted with thirty nine (39) stationery knives, and that gives us an average chop length of around thirty seven mil (37mm), which is perfect for our operation.”

Clerkenhill Farm bought their Pottinger Torro from their local dealer Tallis Amos Group (TAG), choosing the Pottinger over other brands because of the product reputation, quality of build and dealer back-up service. “The beauty of our system,” enthused Richard, “is that we don’t have to depend on a contractor, we can go and harvest grass whenever it’s ready, when it suits us and of course depending on the weather conditions. Typically, we take four cuts per year, averaging between two and three loads per hour at about two acres per load, so we can clear as much as sixty acres in a day. Silage quality is very respectable at DM 28.9, Protein 15.6, D Value 70.2, ME 10.9 and NDF 49.7. The maintenance of the Pottinger is very simple. I can sharpen a set of blades in half an hour and get going without delay. The support we have had from TAG has been excellent and we are very happy that this entire package means we can run an efficient farming business with minimal labour inputs and that has to make an awful lot of commercial sense.”