Hall farm in Leicestershire, a 300 acre traditional mixed farm, which has preserved the features so characteristic of the Leicestershire landscape – ridge and furrow grassland and a rich hedgerow network, is the home of dairy farmers Julia and Ian Hawley and their family.
‘The Brentingby herd of Pedigree Holstein cattle is our main enterprise, with each of our 60 cows producing an average of 8,500 litres of milk (over 15000 pints) per year, which is currently sold to make into Stilton and Leicestershire Red cheese.
We run a ‘closed herd’ – which means we don't buy any cows in. We rear all our female dairy calves to enter the herd when they have their own first calf at around 2 years of age. Calving starts in August and most of the cows have calved by Christmas.
During the Summer the cows graze outside and in winter when it’s cold and muddy they are housed in straw-bedded cubicles, fed on the rich spring grass which we harvested and preserved as silage, plus our own wheat and supplements
We use an Aberdeen Angus bull as well, to give us some quality beef calves. Some of these are kept on the farm for 2yrs for our direct sales enterprise, the rest are sold to other farmers for rearing. We also have a flock of around 300 sheep.
Our livestock enterprises are Red Tractor farm assured, which means we are inspected to ensure that our animals are well cared for and the milk is produced under hygienic conditions. Farm assured produce carries the little Red Tractor logo.
Most of the farm is grassland, a mosaic of modern productive grass and clover for silage and grazing, but also traditional hay meadows and permanent grazing fields. We also grow a small area of providing grain for feed and straw for bedding.
As part of our farming activities, we look after the wildlife and heritage on the farm and are happy to show groups around on one of our farm walks. Extending along the River Eye to the east of Melton Mowbray, the farm offers some fantastic habitats for wildlife, nearly 100 species of birds have been recorded and we have several rare plants and other protected species.
I’ve been hosting educational events at the farm for 16 years and I also visit schools as a Bright Crop Ambassador, promoting careers in our industry. As well as finding visits incredibly satisfying I think it’s important to let visitors see how dairy farmers produce food, care for our animals and the environment and giving people a rural experience.
There is nothing like seeing the astonishment on the face of a child when they see, for the first time, something as basic as a cow licking her nose!’