Dairy farm thriving after takeover
It is almost a year since Valter Medeiros and his wife, Lidia, took on the old Outerlea Farm and its herd after the Island’s biggest milk producer fell into liquidation.
They changed its name to Green Land Dairy, embarked on a series of upgrades to the Store Hill holding and have increased milk output at the 13-acre farm by 400 quarts a day.
Mr Medeiros, who grew up on a dairy farm in St Miguel in the Azores, is now looking to erect a large shelter at Store Hill to provide shelter for the 130-strong herd.
The plans, which include the construction of a new manure pit, were submitted to planners in March and, after months of toing and froing with the Department of Health over various regulations and restrictions, the proposals are expected to go before the Development Applications Board this month.
“It has been a lot of work,” Mr Medeiros said. “But we feel we have made good progress in a short space of time.
“Dunkley’s has been very happy with the quality of the milk, the herd is healthy and we have been able to increase our milk production.
“However, we want to keep making improvements and that is why the new shelter is so important to us.”
During the summer, Mr Medeiros lost five cows as a result of heat-related stress and is keen for the shelter to be put up as soon as possible.
“It’s important for the health and welfare of the cows that we are able to erect the shelter soon,” he said.
“It will provide a large sheltered space where the animals can feed and rest out of the sun or the rain. It has been frustrating that it has taken a long time but we are hopeful that we will get permission soon.
“We have already done a lot of work in the nursing area and other parts of the farm, but getting the shelter up and installing the new manure pit is our priority now.”
When Mr and Mrs Medeiros bought out the Outerlea operation in November last year they took over both the Spittal Pond and the Store Hill dairy farms and their combined herds of 220.
They say that in the past 10 months they have focused their attention on upgrading the Store Hill operation, where the shelter is expected to be built.
Mrs Medeiros told The Royal Gazette that she hoped the new development would correct the previous runoff problems of manure on to the Railway Trail.
“When we took over there was still a considerable amount of damage from the two hurricanes,” she added.
“It took some time to get everything back up and running again and removing all the debris.
“Since that time the focus has been on improving the Store Hill operation, as the Spittal Pond holding was running pretty well.
“The shelter that we are hoping to build at Store Hill will be 75ft wide and 150ft long, and will be divided into feeding stalls.
“The plan is for the manure pit to be relocated to the end of the new structure so that the manure can be washed down into it.
“All the agencies have been supportive and we are very appreciative of their help, but there have been some issues about the location of the manure pit that we have tried to resolve. We are trying to do the right thing and bring the largest dairy provider up to scratch.
“We hope that people understand what we are trying to do at the farm and will continue to support us.”
The couple are expecting to have to pay $150,000 for the new development if they get the green light from planners.
Mr Madeiros said: “The shelter and the new manure pit is all part of bringing the farm up to a better standard.
“The cows will have access to the shelter during the day, but that does not mean they will be there 24/7. They will be out at pasture, too.
“The purpose of the structure is simply to provide shade from the sun and shelter from the rain.”