Robert Thornhill - Long rotation crops for grazing dairy cattle
Born and raised in the Peak District of Derbyshire, I am now married to Sarah and we have two sons, William (12) and Matthew (10). Thirteen years ago I decided to convert from a year round pedigree Holstein herd of 130 cows to a Spring calving pasture based system, crossbreeding my cows with New Zealand Jersey genetics. I soon realised that grazing cattle is my passion and I now have 230 of them on the same farm area.
Much of my development into an efficient grass system can be attributed to my long term membership of a pasture discussion group in which fellow farmers have become mentors and friends, offering practical and constructive advice. Without this support network, my development of the system would have been slower and more painful. I am still an active member of the group and we continually challenge each other to improve, as well as helping new members develop their grazing skills.
I am involved with the NFU at local, county and regional level and am a strong believer in "doing my bit" to help progress and promote our industry.
I have decided to study forages and grazing techniques for sustainable pasture based farming because I am interested in making grazing sytems as durable as possible. I am a strong believer in grazing cattle wherever possible but have concerns about the use of monoculture swards and the idea that perennial rye grass is the only forage suitable for the UK dairy industry. I will be investigating other grasses and non grass forages, with an emphasis on deeper rooting plants for soil and animal health.
I am sincerely grateful to The Trehane Trust for their confidence in choosing me as a scholar and for their support in helping me to fulfil my role.