Gordon Davis

2022 Dairy Farmer of the Year

Westcott Farm,
Rivermead Dairy Ltd,

WESTCOTT Farm is a tenanted farm owned by Devon County Council, with the Davis family farming the 101 hectares (250 acres) on a farm business tenancy (FBT). A further 18ha (45 acres) are rented from the same landlord on a short-term tenancy, and a further 22ha (55 acres) rented from a private landlord
on a five-year FBT.

The wider family are involved in the business, but the main family members looking after the day-to-day running are Gordon Davies, his sons Mark and Kevin, alongside herdsman Richard Saxby. The farm is home to a herd of 280 Jersey cows and their followers, with the milking portion producing about two million litres of high constituent milk each year.

Rivermead Dairy also buys-in an additional 4m-5m litres from Jersey milk producers across the south of England. Using their own fleet of tankers, this milk is then distributed to processors of high-end and specialty cheeses and deserts, alongside more traditional products, such as Devonshire clotted cream, ice cream and yoghurts. This year, the business is also collecting milk from six Holstein herds, with this milk transported to producers of halloumi, mozzarella and paneer cheeses.

Gordon says the setting up of this second dairy business has allowed the family to ‘be in control of their own destiny’. He says: “Diversifying has allowed us to purchase new equipment and invest in facilities and staff.” Noted for its success on the shows circuit, the Rivermead herd is fully housed and Richard Saxby explains there is an emphasis on cow health and welfare. Examples of this include the herd’s strict Johne’s control strategy and their commitment to reducing antibiotic usage, with only 4 per cent of the herd receiving a dry cow tube at drying off.

This is all part of their focus on sustainability, says Gordon. “The general public may well demand far higher welfare standards and accountability than they do presently. We, as farmers, need to be prepared for this and answerable to it. “We need to ensure our business and our farm suppliers are accountable for their actions and present a good image to the public at all times.”

Business aims

  • Control costs and management methods
  • Present a good public image at all times
  • Prepare for rising energy and fuel costs
  • Produce high quality milk from healthy cows

What the judges said:

“This business is at the top of the game, and the family can be rightly proud of their results in terms of animal health, welfare and performance. The whole family displays a passion for the industry, and are not fazed by challenges they may be faced with in the future. They have confidence in their decision making, and are now working hard to encourage the next generation to take the business forward.”

On winning, Gordon said:

“It feels amazing and I am very humbled. We take a lot of pride in what we do and the whole family are involved right through to our youngest grandchildren who milk and my sons that are involved in the day to day running of the farm. I am proud to be a part of an incredible industry that has only grown through adversity.”