14 Feb 2022

Farmer Focus: Chris Creeper, Axminster, Devon

Chris and Connie Creeper have farmed at Waterford Farm, a 200 acre Devon County Council Farm, for nearly seven years. Running a simple system mainly by themselves, they are currently milking 120 and rear their own replacements of which 60% are followers and 40% to beef.  The herd, under the prefix of Frontline Holsteins,  Tristar Ayrshires, and Riverview Jerseys are milked twice a day through an 8 abreast parlour. Grazed on the 120 acres and housed in cubicles with deep sand, the herd are fed cake to yield in the parlour and a TMR ration mixed in a feeder wagon.

Chris’s family have a long history as pedigree Ayrshire breeders which is where his alliances lie due to having animals in the herd that he has worked with for many generations. To meet the needs of his constituent’s milk contract they have introduced pedigree Holsteins for yield and Jerseys for the solids. With their multi-breed pedigree herd, they have found the CIS Complete service to be a huge benefit in many ways along with support from CIS Area Manager Noni Smith.

“Before we moved to the CIS Complete service, we were having to register calves with BCMS and three different breed societies, this was time-consuming going on four different websites and left room for mistakes to happen.  Now I just find the animal on the CIS MobileHerd app on my phone when tagging the calf, enter the date the calf was born and its ear tag number and it is done, I haven’t got to think about it again it is just so simple”, says Chris.

With the CIS Complete service, they benefit from two type classification visits a year.  “I believe that classifying adds value to the pedigrees within our herd and I find it a useful tool when making breeding decisions.  We have also been genomic testing all the followers for the last 15 months, which we are just starting to serve. We are not chasing huge genomic numbers but instead looking at the functional type that is suited to our farm. Having the milk records on the phone in the MobileHerd app at the click of a finger is helpful”, says Chris who uses the app up to 10 times a day.

The herd are milk recorded with CIS on a 4 weekly basis to keep an eye on individual fats and proteins and importantly cell counts.  “The cell count results are always the first thing I will look at when the results come through to catch anything with a raising cell count as early as possible. The results are also used as part of the selection criteria for dry cow treatment by the vets”, adds Chris. 

A service that is rated highly by Chris is the CIS PregCheck that he has been using for many years. It has vastly cut down the number of animals that are pulled out during the routine vet visit, saving them hours of standing around for the cows. They love the fact that it is stress-free and less invasive for the herd and Chris has found it to be extremely reliable.

Chris adds, “The attention to detail from the staff at CIS is what I believe is an important key point, nothing is too much trouble. Noni Smith, our CIS Area Manager, is from a dairying background and so she gets it. Noni understands the importance of the data we are collecting and will always make sure it is right. The fact that she is always at the end of the phone, and nothing is too much trouble for her is invaluable”.