Shorthorn dairy herd unique in Norfolk

Dairy Shorthorns are part of a multi-faceted business run by a well-known Norfolk farmers, Tim and Anne Wyatt, who can still find time for their passion - racehorses.

Dairy Shorthorns are part of a multi-faceted business run by a well-known Norfolk farmers, Tim and Anne Wyatt, who can still find time for their passion - racehorses.

At Grange Farm, Snetterton, the Mr and Mrs Wyatt and their son Jonathan milk 100 cows in their Twells herd.

It is the only Dairy Shorthorn herd in Norfolk, and one of only a few dozen dairy herds in the county.

The family still trade as Pearn Wyatt & Son, the name brought to Norfolk from Devon by Tim's grandfather, Joseph Pearn.

As well as farming predominantly arable land in Breckland, the Wyatts run a fleet of lorries, transporting grain, sugar beet and refrigerated produce such as herbs.

Their son Jonathan runs an agricultural contracting business specialising in arable work and a 100-acre disused airfield on the farm is being developed for commercial use.

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Horses have always been in the family but the involvement with National Hunt racing started from just one Thoroughbred brood mare, which produced seven foals.

The Wyatts have three horses in training with Oxfordshire-based Henrietta Knight, trainer of the three times Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Best Mate. Their 10-year-old gelding Muhtenbar is twice winner of the Ritz Club Casino Novice's Steeple Chase at Ascot.

"My father, Joe, who started farming at Grange Farm in 1936, was great hunting man, riding with the Norfolk Stag Hounds, and the interest in horses has continued in the family," said Tim. "It's a hobby, but it's also part of the business."

Joe's wedding present was 12 Shorthorn heifers which founded the herd in 1936. Today's herd is loose-housed, although the herd lived outside until 1970.

Five years ago the herd was switched to a total mixed ration to make the most of home-grown produce. The grass silage and maize based diet includes a soya blend, molasses and minerals.

The majority of the dairy herd is 75pc Shorthorn with some cattle 100pc Shorthorn bloodlines with Red and White Holstein and Dairy Shorthorn used across the herd. There are three stock bulls and some semen is used mostly from Red Cattle Genetics. Australian Illawarra semen has also been used.

Over the years, Twells Dairy Shorthorn bloodlines have gone as far afield as South America, China and Australia, with one of the most noted being Twells Moss Trooper 4, which proved very popular in Australia.

His dam Twells Moss Rose 5 was champion at the Royal Show.

The Wyatts are also able to make the most of their steer calves, which are finished on the farm.

The herd calves all the year round and replacements are mostly home-bred.The herd averages 7,500 litres at 4pc butterfat and 3.36pc protein.

The cows are milked in an eight-point rotary parlour, one of the originals installed by Fullwood in the UK.

While herd numbers running at a total of 150 cows and a maximum of 120 in milk are at their optimum, the Wyatts are aiming to get more milk without sacrificing the cattle's important attributes.

"We like the longevity of the cattle with some still calving at 10 years old. With our other business interests it's important that the cows are easy to look after and they are healthy with a good temperament," said Tim.

"It's a simple management system which fits in well with our other enterprises."