In 1943, Mike’s father started milking two cows behind the local pub in Milborne Port, Dorset, England, subsequently acquiring a small dairy unit called Venn Farm. At the age of 16, Mike began his farming career working alongside his father and two brothers on the farm. In 1989, Mike and his wife Sue took on the tenancy of their own small dairy. Four years later they went into partnership with their landlord to manage two additional dairy units.
Today, the family-run business operates five separate organic dairy farms, built upon carefully selected genetics, good animal husbandry and cost-effective milk production.
Key areas of sustainable practice
National Milk Records undertakes monthly milk recording to monitor individual cow milk yield, milk solids and somatic cell count, which provides data to help inform management decisions.
The cows are fed a forage-based diet with the aim of growing more protein on-farm and reducing purchased feed requirements. This is being achieved by increasing the clover content of pastures and growing lucerne for grazing. This activity also supports improved soil fertility and pasture productivity.
Two kilometers of new cow tracks have been laid, which have improved and increased access to pastures while reducing soil compaction and erosion.
Accurate financial forecasting and planning allows the business to undertake capital investments within identified time frames to help improve economic stability and long-term commercial sustainability.
The herdsman is employed on a 365-day contract and is paid on a per liter of milk produced basis with a bonus paid for achieving targets relating to herd health and grass productivity. This policy has helped to drive business objectives and employee engagement.
The herd spends an additional four weeks at pasture each season, saving £12,000 each year on housing and feed costs.
An online tool is used to help record grass growth measurements, which provides data to improve grazing management. The data is used to monitor performance, help make informed decisions, target resources and drive progress.
A dairy management tool is used to record and benchmark herd performance and manage costings, which helps to ensure optimal farm efficiency is achieved.
Sexed semen is used to inseminate the most efficient and productive cows in the herd, ensuring faster genetic improvement. This also allows the farm to use beef-type genetics on the other cows, providing a higher-value marketable calf. The use of sexed semen has achieved equivalent conception rates to standard semen and the farm estimates a saving of around £480 from producing a dairy heifer calf versus a dairy male.
Learn more about Mike and Sue Tizzard’s story
Explore the case study, where you’ll find extra details on how the farm has performed against the program’s good practice standards and criteria, what external research reveals about the producer's actions and how improved sustainability benefits them.
“We’re always forecasting at least 12 months ahead and budgets are always ready to be viewed with up-to-date information so we can drive the business forward.”
“Mike and Sue have been able to build a very successful dairy operation based upon a defined business strategy and a focus on financial forecasting and planning. Key outcomes and indicators are being monitored and measured, which has provided detailed figures for benchmarking to identify areas in need of improvement. Key business drivers have been established, such as producing more milk from forage. This has resulted in targeted investments on-farm to support improvements. All in all, a very impressive farming business driven by great management and supported by a great team.”
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