The Harvey family's Holstein herd from Beeswing, Dumfries, scored a hat-trick at the National Milk Records (NMR) annual competition, producing the highest yields for the third consecutive year.

Brothers John and Stuart Harvey's three times daily milking herd produced average yields of 13,643kg at 945kg fat and protein, with a calving index of 400days.

Notably, the herd which is run in partnership with the boys' mother, Margaret produced nine of the top 15 highest yielding cows, to include the top two – Killywhan Jeeves Ina 837 and Killywhan Topshop Virtue 818.

The former produced 21,005kg of milk with a total fat and protein content of 1474kg, while the Harvey's No 2 cow, yielded 20,876kg with 1447kg constituents.

In second place was CH Shropshire and Sons' robot milked herd from Shropshire which recorded 13,618kg at 934kg fat and protein, while the Miller family's Shanael herd from Evesham, Worcestershire produced 13,620kg, again on a three time daily milking regime with fat and protein levels of 911kg, to stand third in the overall rankings.

The Harvey's herd was also one of six finalists for the prestigious NMR/RABDF Gold Cup 2018, which saw Philip Metcalfe and his dairy team from Metcalfe Farms, Leyburn, crowned winners of the dairy industry’s top award presented last week at Dairy-Tech, Stoneleigh, by HRH The Princess Royal.

Metcalfe Farms is owned and run by brothers David, Brian and Philip Metcalfe, with Philip managing the dairy herd on 525ha of the 1300ha within the farm business. In 2016 they added a new parlour and additional cow accommodation to enable the herd to expand.

Now, 1300 pedigree Holstein cows and 850 youngstock are kept on this unit. Cow health and welfare protocols are priority, with dedicated and trained staff covering all aspects of herd management, including milking routines, cow nutrition, calf rearing and dry cow care. These practices, combined with breeding cows for type, good locomotion and avoiding extremes, promoted improvements in overall herd performance. The herd is now averaging 10,800kg at 4%BF and 3.25%P, with a cell count of 124,000 cells/ml. Calving interval is 403 days in this all-year-round calving herd.

Runner up went to brothers, Stephen and Mark Montgomery from Drumahoe, Co Londonderry, who run 180-cow pedigree Holstein autumn-calving herd at the 145ha Gortree Farm, Drumahoe, along with 128 followers.

It’s taken the brothers 10 years to build their herd and unit from nothing, having bought their first 100 cows from a neighbour and walked them half a mile up the road to their new unit in September 2008. This autumn-calving herd now averages 10,074kg of milk at 3.93%BF and 3.22%P. Average cell count is 136,000cells/ml and the calving interval is 375 days.

NMR’s latest production report for the year ending September 2018, shows overall improvements in milk yield and constituents, as well as reduced somatic cell counts and calving intervals, for the main dairy breeds.

For the Holstein breed, which represents 71% of NMR’s recorded herds, average yield increased by 107kg of milk and 16kg of BF and P to 9046kg and 647kg respectively. Meanwhile somatic cell count average fell by 2000 cells/ml to 172,000 and calving interval by two days to 403 days.

Leading the Ayrshire breed was the Tinklers’ Park Head herd, from Yorkshire, with 731kg of fat and protein and 9144kg of milk and Nerewater Farm’s herd, which is based in Cumbria, retains its first place in the British Friesian herd rankings with 681kg of fat and protein and 8853kg of milk.

Six NMR/RABDF Gold Cup 2018 finalists were:

· The Firm of A Harvey, Beeswing, Dumfries

· Metcalfe Farms, Leyburn, North Yorkshire

· Tomlinson Bilsrow, Preston, Lancashire

· Stephen and Mark Montgomery, Drumahoe, Co Londonderry

· Halton Farms, Moreton-cum-Alcumlow, Cheshire

· Stowell Farms, Marlborough, Wiltshire