Mike is the Herd Manager at Ffosyficer Farm where Daioni Organic was founded. We sat down to have a chat with him about his role and thoughts on organic farming. It’s obvious from speaking to Mike that he loves his job and in fact, it’s more than just a job to him, he never switches off from farming life. He knows the names and traits of each individual cow he manages and considers them his own. Animal welfare is of the utmost importance for Mike and the rest of the team at Ffosyficer.
How did you get into farming?
I got into farming by accident really. I had a rural upbringing in Lancashire and introduction to farming as a child was going to my friend’s dairy farm and helping out with the milking. It was all fun and games, having to balance on crates just to try and reach the cows’ udders. My passion grew from there and I have since held many different jobs in the agricultural industry from milking cows to tractor driving. Over the years, I realised that it was organic farming that I believed in and how I wanted my future in farming to continue. The ethos of doing a job properly and not cutting corners in regard to animal welfare is one that I fully support. Organic farming has the highest standards of animal welfare and I can see how this is reflected in the quality of milk produced, it’s quality over quantity.
What do you do day to day?
The alarm clock goes off at 4.30am for a 5am start for milking. We milk the cows twice a day and there’s a core team of four of us with others mucking in to help when they can. Being up close to the herd at milking time allows us to keep an eye on them and notice any issues that might arise. Animal welfare is bottom line for me and the rest of the team. My day can be made up of foot trimming, completing grazing budgets and monitoring grass growth as well as keeping cow health records – all to make sure we have the healthiest cows that we possibly can.
This time of year (February), I’m out walking the fields measuring the grass once a week to estimate where and when the cows will be allowed to graze outdoors. As organic farmers, it’s important to us that our cows graze our luscious green pastures so monitoring grass growth allows us to let our cows out as soon as we can.
During the winter, our cows are fed on silage, which is fermented grass that has been cut and stored away from the summer. This silage is supplemented with whole crops such as barley, wheat and oats as well as fodder beet and mineral supplements such as organic seaweed. I work closely with Tom Harris and an animal nutritionist who samples and analyses the nutritional content of our silage so that we can supplement it with other feed accordingly. For example, if our feed needs more energy, we would increase the supply of barley. It’s vital to get this right as too much of one nutrient can cause health problems for the cows later down the line. We care for all animals individually here, they’re not just a number on a spreadsheet.
What makes farming at Ffosyficer different?
For me, it’s the unique location of Ffosyficer Farm. It offers a great lifestyle with beautiful scenery and stunning beaches close by. A great place to live with my wife, Ellie, and bring up our two young children.
It’s a fantastic team here at Ffosyficer. It’s a pleasure to work alongside Laurence, Tom, Francisca and the rest of the Harris family – the whole team is seen as one big family and we all stick together and help each other out. We’re all working towards the same goal of doing the best we can for the land and our cows. Even though we might be considered a big farm with numerous different enterprises, it’s still a family business at its heart.
Favourite part of the job?
It’s an amazing sight to see the cows turned out in Spring. The whole team will head out to the field gate to watch the cows leap and dance out to the fields. It’s a real highlight of the year.
What does ‘goodness’ mean to you?
Goodness, to me, means to do everything as naturally as possible in the way we farm. To do good for the land and our animals.
So that’s Mike!
If you have any questions for Mike, head on over to our Instagram and send us a direct message – we’d love to hear from you!