“Good communication between the herd manager and cheese dairy management gives milk that is optimal for our cheese making.”

Mary Quicke, MBE is the managing director of a dairy farm in southwestern England where she uses the milk produced to make traditional farmhouse cheeses. Last November, Mary received a Lifetime Achievement award for her “Exceptional Contribution to Cheese” at the World Cheese Awards 2015 held in Birmingham. M²-magazine talked to her about her farm and cheese business.

Where is your farm and what do you produce?

“The farm is 550 hectares, and located in the Creedy Valley in mid-Devon. We produce milk from our dairy herd, and grow a range of arable crops, including maize. The farm contains a wide range of environmental features (we are in our third environment management scheme), including traditional orchards, field margins, hedge care, and beetle banks. We also host schools and other educational visits.”

The dairy herd: how big is it and how is it managed?

“We have 500 dairy cows, kept as one herd. They are Friesian x Swedish Red x Montbeliarde, with some Jersey crosses. They are kept on a low-ish input system, using New Zealand-style extended grazing.  Milking cows are grazed from late February to mid-December in 12-hour paddocks. The 250-cow spring calving herd (block calves in nine weeks) are out to grass almost as soon as they calve and yield 5,000 litres of milk per cow per year. They are mostly out wintered on fodder beet and straw. The 250-cow autumn calving herd (also block calves in nine weeks) spend winter in the cubicle house, and graze from early March to late November. They typically give 7,000 litres. They are fed on a mix of maize silage, and grass silage with complementary feeds included in the silage clamp as the grass is ensiled. The milking cows are