Encouraging new entrants into farming and the issues facing the dairy industry are among the topics being tackled in a new podcast, which goes behind-the-scenes at Clinton Devon Estates’ dairy operations for the first time.
The series features insights from members of the Clinton Farms team, who give their own unique perspectives on what it’s like to work on a busy organic dairy farm.
The Clinton Devon Farms Partnership manages two organic dairy farms in East Devon, Otter Farm and Dalditch Farm, where a combined herd of 750 cows graze locally. They produce 5.4 million litres of milk each year and the team work around the clock to ensure organic milk supplies are maintained.
Hosted by Devon young farmer Dan Grist, the podcasts look at how each member of the team entered the industry. It’s hoped it could change the perception that you need to have a farming background to work in agriculture.
In the first episode of three, Leslie James discusses his role as Herd Manager for the Otter Dairy and reflects on his 37 years working in the industry.
In the podcast, Leslie explains: “I’m very fortunate working here in Devon and for the Estate, we’re in a beautiful part of the country and it’s phenomenal to be up at four o’clock in the morning when it’s just breaking daylight. As an industry, we don’t focus enough on the good things.
“It’s a lovely career and it’s not the career that a lot of people think it is. There is a lot of technology, data and computers and a lot of the progressive dairy farmers are right up there at the forefront of research being done across the country and the world.”
In contrast to Leslie’s extensive career, Young Stock Assistant Samantha Gray not only took on her role at the start of the pandemic, but she also has no previous experience working in agriculture.
Samantha explains: “None of my family come from a farming background. My dad always said to me when I was younger, one day I would work with cows because I would shout quite a lot! It has always been an interest to me, but I never thought I would actually end up being involved in agriculture.”
Samantha works closely with Alice Thomas, Young Stock Manager, who studied bio-veterinary science before deciding she wanted to work in the dairy industry. She focusses on the welfare and sustainability of the herd, with an emphasis on allowing cows to graze outside as part of the farm’s organic system.
Alice explains: “It’s driving the future really. If you do the calf right, from the start, they drive a healthier and more productive dairy herd. There is a lot of importance to having the freedom to graze, I feel like it makes the cattle grow better. There’s an old phrase that ‘the cattle will grow with the grass’ – which is very true.”
Clinton Farms Manager Sam Briant-Evans, who oversees the farm operations, said: “This is the first time we have undertaken a project like this, giving the public a real insight into what it’s like working on a busy organic dairy farm.
“Having members of staff that have a diverse range of skills and backgrounds makes for such a strong team. It’s so important to acknowledge the hard work that goes on behind the scenes, so this podcast is a great opportunity to be able to share what we do.”
You can listen to the full podcast series on the Clinton Devon Estates YouTube channel here: https://bit.ly/3iB87T6.