A MAESBURY family farm has fought off national competition to win the Tesco Dairy Farmer of the Year award.
The award was given to SJ Stevens and Sons: George Stevens, Phillip Cotterell, and his wife Anne-Marie who are based at Warren Farm, Maesbury.
The farm impressed the judging panel with their high welfare and excellent attention to detail.
"This is a dedicated family farm where the cows are very much treated as members of the family, and as such is highly presentable to the general public," said Graham Wilkinson, dairy manager for Tesco.
Judges were impressed by the low lameness and exceptionally low mastitis rate, indicating high welfare and low antibiotic use. Also noted were the rubber mats installed in feed passages to reduce lameness risk and the adoption of feeding cows in late afternoon through winter to reduce starling visits (a potential source of disease and reduction in feed intakes).
Mr Stevens said the farm has been supplying to Tesco for about ten years. He said: "We were quite surprised when we found out we'd won – we didn't nominate ourselves.
"The cows are part of the family. I'm 66 now and I was a year old when we came to this farm. We've more or less built it up over the last 60 years and about ten years ago my son-in-law came with his cows and we've gone from there."
Shepton Vets' Michael Head, who carries out regular health visits to the farm, said: "I am delighted that the hard work put in and high standards achieved have been recognised with this national award."
Alan Creed of PH Creed and Son, East Pennard, was highly commended in the competition. The judging panel was particularly impressed with cow cleanliness and the lack of leg lesions due to the spacious sand cubicles. Mr Creed said he is planning on increasing herd vaccination to reduce sick cows and antibiotic use further.