First Milk invests in farmers of the future

First Milk, the UK's largest dairy farmer-owned business, is investing in the next generation of dairy producers with scholarships to its industry leading First Milk Academy (FMA).

The move will see nine young farmers from across Scotland, England and Wales take part in FMA professional development workshops, which could lead to a Higher Education Certificate in Dairy Herd Management.
First Milk will pay around £1000 per student to cover course fees, learning materials and travel costs for the six workshops of Business Management; Feeding the Dairy Cow; Improving Herd Fertility; Good Agricultural and Environmental Practice; Improving Herd Health and Lameness Prevention.

Launching the scheme on a First Milk member's farm in Staffordshire, First Milk chief executive, Kate Allum, commented:

"Investing in the development of our younger members is one way of demonstrating our commitment to improving the sustainability of our milk fields.  These scholarships give the next generation of dairy farmers further knowledge and experience, which will assist them in achieving increased efficiencies and measurable successes on their farms."

The nine students are:

  • Katie Withington, Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire – a business management graduate, Katie works full time on her parents' 250-acre farm, where they have 170 pedigree Holstein Friesian cows.  Katie assists with the herd management alongside her parents.

  • Greg Billington, Preston, Lancashire – Greg works full time on the 270 acre farm, milking 200 cows.  Greg believes the scholarship will enable him to expand his knowledge base and develop a variety of skills, which will allow him to input into the future direction of the farm.

  • Geraint Owens, Newcastle Emlyn, Carmarthenshire – Geraint farms 220 acres, with 70 milking cows and 100 beef cattle, with his parents.  His aim is to replace the beef cattle and expand the dairy herd. Geraint believes developing a herd action plan will improve the planning and running of his dairy herd.

  • Jill Bathgate, Gorebridge, Midlothian – Jill has recently taken on more responsibility for running the family farm and believes the scholarship will help her develop new ideas.  Jill has completed the lameness prevention workshop and has already seen improvements in the lameness incidence on farm.

  • Dylan Roberts, Newport, Pembrokeshire – Dylan has a degree in Accounting & Management and farms 370 acres, supporting 250 award-winning Holstein cows.  Dylan sees the scholarship as a way of improving efficiency on farm and allowing him to gain greater practical knowledge, relevant to modern dairying.

  • David Jones, Abergavenny, Monmouthshire – A third generation dairy farmer, David farms in partnership with his parents, producing 1.2 million litres from a herd of 140 pedigree Llanellen Holsteins.  With a National Diploma in Agriculture and an Agricultural Engineering qualification, David has also worked on farms in New Zealand and the USA.  He believes continuous professional development is essential to securing the long-term health, yield and overall welfare of his herd and the long-term viability of the business.

  • Dylan Davies, Cardigan, Ceredigion – Dylan manages the dairy herd on his parents' farm, milking 100 Holstein Friesians on an all-year round calving pattern.  Dylan, who has already completed four of the six workshops, is striving to achieve better efficiencies within his business and sees his First Milk Academy higher education certificate as a route to achieving this goal.

  • Ian Onion and Robert Norton, Gnosall, Stafford – Ian and Robert both work on the same farm and are sharing the scholarship place.  Both have worked full time on farm since leaving school with the farm's pedigree herd of 140 dairy Shorthorns.  Farmer David Winnington, who nominated the duo, believes that they will motivate each other to achieve results by learning together.

First Milk set up its Academy in 2006 and since then, members representing more than 40% of its milk volume have become involved, attending business clubs, where they share best practice or taking part in the development workshops.  The scheme is run in partnership with four of the key industry organisations, DairyCo, The Royal Agricultural College, Kingshay Farming Trust and Scottish Agricultural Colleges.


Photo (Left to Right): Katie Withington; David Jones; Lee Truelove (First Milk farm sustainability manager); Dylan Roberts; Rob Norton; KateAllum (First Milk chief executive); Geraint Owens; Greg Billington; Dylan Davies and Ian Onion.  Jill Bathgate was unavailable on launch day.

For further information, please contact Jill Coyle, Communications Manager, First Milk – 0141 847 6884/ 07825 625205.

24 January