A DAIRY farmer in County Durham has been named Milkminder Manager of the Year 2017.

The Pounder family, of Stainton Hill Farm, near Barnard Castle, won the award at UK Dairy Day.

Andrew and Pam Pounder, who run a 200-cow Holstein Friesian herd, averaging 9,226 litres, with 4.19 per cent butterfat and 3.3 per cent protein, overcame tough competition from two other regional finalists to be recognised as top of their field.

The family impressed judge James Dunn, Promar’s managing director, with their attention to detail and clear succession plan.

“Andrew knows his business inside and out, and his attention to detail sees impressive results being realised on farm.

“Grassland management is one of Andrew’s strong points, which was further acknowledged when he was named a finalist in this year’s British Grassland Society competition,” said James.

“Careful selection of grass leys within the farm rotation has seen good quality forage being produced every year. The herd currently yields 4,754 litres from forage, which represents about 55 per cent of the total milk yield.

“This is a significant figure and well above our recommended starting point of 30 per cent.”

James stressed that in a volatile market, risk spreading and forward planning are essential for farm businesses to be sustainable.

He said: “Andrew and Pam have been careful with investment in recent years, prioritising areas where it’s needed most.

“A consistent milk price received from Embleton Hall Dairies, combined with careful investment, has seen the farm succeed through recent troublesome times, with margin over purchased feed steadily improving.”

James said that the future looks bright for the family farm of three generations, which includes Andrew’s parents John and Margaret, Pam’s father, Dennis, and 21-year-old son, Scott, who has been made a partner in the business.

“Andrew has taken a proactive approach to farm succession, and he, Dennis and Scott play equal roles in key areas such as heat detection and cow health, while also making big business decisions as a family.

“The Pounder family are very worthy winners, and we’re pleased to be able to acknowledge their achievements as a successful dairy business,” said James.