A cross-bred herd has broken the mould to win the prestigious NMR RABDF Gold Cup.

Bisterne Farm, from Ringwood, Hampshire, is one of the first farms in the competition's recent history to receive the award with a crossbred, low-input, grass-based herd, with contract farming partner George Brown and dairyman James Dunning.

Estate owner Hallam Mills and Mr Brown milk 600 cows within the 1500ha estate near Ringwood, focusing on producing milk from grazed grass. Their herd produces 3730litres of milk from forage and have a target to reach 4000 litres with cows yielding 550kg of milk solids per cow per lactation.

Current average yield is 6282kg of milk at 5.06%BF and 3.84%P from this spring and autumn block calving herd.

A strong, ambitious team of five full-time staff members and three students working on farm are driven by fine attention to detail.

Teamwork at Bisterne Farm is one of the attributes that stood out for this year's judges, which included RABDF’s chairman Robert Craig and trustee Di Wastenage, NMR's veterinary adviser Dr Karen Bond and 2020 Gold Cup winner, John Torrance, Essex.

Commenting on the winner, Mr Craig said: "George and his team are a great example of what modern pasture-based dairying should look like. All the judges unanimously decided on Bisterne Farm as the 2023 winner, not only because of their excellent attention to detail and focus on KPIs across their system, but also because they go above and beyond to showcase dairy to the consumer.

“They have a really positive attitude towards dairy farming and have an excellent social engagement, hosting more than 4000 visitors during last year's Open Farm Sunday and opening the farm up to other groups such as Scouts, NFYFC and ex-offenders.”

The judges highly commended the other finalists and were encouraged by the high standards witnesses across all the farms during their judging visits. These are:

• Graham Farms, Drumgoon Manor, Maguiresbridge, Co Fermanagh

• Michael Eavis, Pilton, Shepton Mallet, Somerset

• Joe Ives, W&P Ives, Herriard, Basingstoke, Hampshire.

Four further Gold Cup awards were made at Dairy-Tech:

Chris May Memorial Award

The Chris May Memorial Award, for the highest lifetime daily yield (LDY), was awarded to the Torrance family from Stapleford Abbotts, near Romford, Essex. Their Curtismill pedigree Holstein herd, comprising 670 cows and 430 followers, achieved an LDY of 21.5kg of milk per cow per day.

The business is run by John Torrance in partnership with father Robert, mother Janet and wife Lucy. It won the Gold Cup 2020.

NMR Silver Salver

The NMR Silver Salver awarded to the Holstein herd with the highest combined fat and protein production for the year ending September 2022, was presented to Janet and Sandy Law, Woodside Farm, Derbyshire of Marshall and Law Partners.

The mother and son farm in partnership with Sandy’s grandmother, Mary Marshall, who established the Overseal herd in 1947 with her husband Jim. The all-year-round-calving herd numbers 200 cows, with a combined fat and protein of 1007kg a cow. Average milk yield is 13,850kg at 4.4%BF and 3.35%P. The herd is housed all year and milked through a 20:20 herringbone parlour.