DAIRY, CHESHIRE: Katy farms a 250 acre (101ha) organic dairy farm in Cheshire. She milks approximately 130 cows and rears all her own youngstock. Over the past six years she has invested in robotics around the farm, including two robotic milkers.
The cows graze outdoors from late February/early March to the end of October/beginning of November. All milk is supplied to Belton Farm which makes a wide range of cheese just across the county border in Shropshire.
Katy is passionate about regenerative farming methods and is interested in making further environmental improvements to the farm over the coming years.
Katy grew up on the farm she now runs. After a hiatus studying for a politics degree, she earned a place on the Barclays Future Leaders Development Programme graduate scheme where she worked for just under three years. Although she loved the London life, she had always wanted to work alongside her Dad and push the farm forwards – so she left the city in 2014.
Sadly, things did not go to plan. “My Dad suddenly died one night leaving me in charge of the farm after just 25 days back at home,” she says. “Luckily I had worked very closely with Dad throughout most of my school and university holidays and regularly helped out at weekends so was able to muddle through and am hopefully now making him proud with the improvements I am making to the farm.”
She enjoys being a part of nature, as well as caring for the animals’ health and wellbeing. Katy relishes the constant challenges and problem solving that farming presents, with every day being different. But most of all she loves seeing the cows calve and new life being born onto the farm - a sight that will never get old.
Bovine TB and badger culling has become a very big issue in Cheshire, a so-called ‘edge area’ during the past 10 to 15 years, and Katy believes most of the farming community in the county are supportive of a cull. However, Katy’s views are the opposite to many of her farming friends.
She has done a lot of research on the topic, including a module dedicated to it while weaving agriculture into her politics degree.
She recognises that badgers are likely a part of the problem and can therefore see why culling them would seem like a good option. But after studying the data, Katy believes a centralised and thorough cull across the nation is the only way it could work. In her view, the end results of regionalised culling will be insufficient.
She thinks farmers could do more in terms of biosecurity to protect themselves from the badger risk. And that pre-movement testing should be taken far more seriously, with animals only able to travel if their passport is accompanied by a relevant negative test certificate.
In 2021 she took up the option of vaccinating the farm badger population and feels this gets more directly to the heart of the problem while also creating a healthy badger population and building bridges with the public.
Katy has set up a wellbeing and event space on the farm.
Featured in Farmers Guardian in 2019.