Recent projects and events

1908 - 2008 Celebrating 100 years of Council Farms in Cheshire

Cheshire East Council – Providing Opportunities for New Entrants to Farming

Chris Coates - Ridley 11 - Oak Farm

Ridley-11In April 2017 Chris Coates, a new entrant from Cheshire, took on the tenancy of Oak Farm, a newly amalgamated 132 acre dairy farm created in the reorganisation of Cheshire East Councils Ridley Farms Estate.

As part of a commitment to modernising the Estate, the Council offered access to funding to improve the buildings on the holding, contribute towards capacity issues and improve productivity all within a 15 year Farm Business Tenancy, giving Chris the opportunity to farm in his own right;

Taking full advantage of this exciting opportunity, Chris proposed a building scheme and secured circa £220,000 funding from Cheshire East and over the past 14 months has overseen the transformation of the holding to a modern and functional dairy unit, now home to his heard of Pedigree Jersey Cattle.

The Farm now has modern buildings complimenting the existing range including a cubicle shed with 123 cubicles, an adjoining loose house and an additional silage clamp with capacity for an extra 750 tonnes of silage. The next stage of the project is the construction of a new slurry lagoon and young stock housing.

As well as the funding received from Cheshire East Council, Chris has also secured a grant from LEADER which has contributed 40% towards the cost of 2 Robotic Milking Machines. The robots have been installed within one of the traditional buildings, and are the first robotic milking machines to be installed on the estate.

Ridley 11 - Oak FarmIn addition to the robots, Chris has also installed an automatic gate system which ensures cows are returned to the correct building when exiting the parlour, or if they have not been milked sufficiently the gates return the cow into the parlour.

Speaking about the project Chris said ‘It’s been challenging at times, but it was a great opportunity to pretty much build a farm from scratch. We were given plenty of scope, and we’ve taken advantage of the grants available to make the farm as up to date and high tech as we can. Everyone has been amazed at how much we’ve got done in a year - I’m now looking forward to sitting back and watching it all work!’

With modern facilities and innovative technology on his side, we are all excited to watch Chris’s business grow as he takes on the challenges facing UK agriculture.

Phil Jenkinson - Ridley 12 - Meadow Farm

Ridley 12 - Meadow FarmThe end of a dairy based share farming agreement and the desire to farm in his own right encouraged Phillip Jenkinson to apply for the tenancy at Meadow Farm, a 144 acre dairy farm also newly created through the reorganisation of the Councils Ridley Estate.

As the successful applicant, Philip was granted a 15 year Farm Business Tenancy and moved into Meadow Farm with his family in April 2017.

Once again the Council also offered funding to improve the farms facilities and with this in mind, Phillip proposed a building improvement scheme which would modernise the holding, increase capacity through additional cubicle housing, a silage clamp and slurry storage and improve productivity.

A budget of approximately £135,000 was agreed and over the following 14 months, Phillip has managed the building project and the work is now almost complete. The extension to an existing cubicle shed has increased the capacity of cubicle housing from 62 to 127 cubicles, and a new silage pit has increased the holdings silage capacity to approximately 1050 tonnes.

The final stage of the building project is the construction of a new slurry lagoon, with work due to commence imminently to ensure the farm has adequate capacity for the coming winter.

Ridley 12 - Meadow Farm

In addition to the Council funded project, Phillip has also made other improvements to the holding including extending the parlour to make milking more efficient and installed a water pump to improve the supply of water around the farm.

Speaking about his first year at Meadow Farm, Phillip said “It’s had its ups and downs but on the whole we have thoroughly enjoyed our first year at Meadow Farm and are very grateful for the chance to start farming on our own. We’ve really enjoyed project managing the building work and found the end result very satisfying, we also found the council very straight forward to work with during the whole process”.

Meadow Farm is now a well-equipped modern dairy holding which Cheshire East providing a good foundation for Phillips farming business to develop and thrive and new entrants in the future.