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Farm Information

Cloisters Farm comprises 45 hectares with a further 30 hectares of rented land.  Some 29 hectares are available adjacent to the buildings, the remainder being over roads or up to two miles away, including 18 hectares of silage ground.

The cattle are loose housed in winter and fed a TMR (Total Mixed Ration) based on bale silage.  Top-up feeding for high yields occurs in the parlour.  Summer grazing is generally by set-stocking with buffer feeding.  2012/13 has also seen youngstock on TMR, results of which look promising.

Breeding is mainly AI to good Type bulls, although young bulls from the best cows are also kept.  Unlike many herds we do not rear bulls unless we are happy to use them ourselves and we have a long history of our home bred bulls topping rankings, although on limited proofs.

With our vets at Towcester Veterinary Centre we run an on-going Herd Health plan in place with monitoring and vaccination in place for most of the current disease issues.  Bulls are also selected on haplotypes and other health criteria as appropriate.

Charles’ (Charles Reader) retirement in 2012 from 27 years of service and office-holding at UK Jerseys has allowed him to refocus on the farm with the result that the herd is now expanding from 85 to 120 head, with a new purpose-built building for the milking herd.  We intend that this, along with increased involvement from our son Andrew, will return Barnowl Jerseys to the top profile position it held during the 1980s and 1990s, providing deep, productive bloodlines and show stock to the UK and international markets.

The land at the main holding is limestone brash, and although considerably improved over the years can still only be relied on for one cut plus grazing as it is usually drought-stricken by mid- July.  Some of the rougher rental land remains green but the location makes it impractical for the milking herd.   

Included in the first test NVZ areas we decided to farm organically and did so for a number of years until differentials on feed:milk price became unfeasible.  However our land management is still organic, using composted FYM and broiler litter as our fertilisers and incorporating clovers into leys.  These have added around three weeks to our predicted summer grazing availability.

Originally a county council holding, we had the opportunity to buy the farm in 1995, the sale being completed when we were in South Africa on a marketing and judging trip there and in Kenya.  In 1997 we amalgamated the old family farm at Daventry into the business, purchasing the farm from the landlord and selling the Hillfox/Goldeneagle milking herd to Mackies as their nucleus Jersey herd.  The farm became our heifer and sheep unit.  In 2006 family arrangements changed and the family farm was sold allowing us to pay off all debts and subsequently acquire an additional 18 hectares nearer to home.

Over the years buildings and facilities have been changed, the 2013 cow yard being the latest addition.  A made-for-purpose workshop and store with a 22m x 18m loose yard for the milking herd will allow for herd expansion and redesigning of existing buildings for future needs.  Options for future milking arrangements need to be considered in this as the 10/10 herringbone parlour was fitted in 1989 and is looking “tired”.