Paul Coates

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Paul Coates farms alongside his wife, Julie; their two sons, James and Daniel; and his father, at Barrockend Farm, Carlisle, Cumbria. The family run a mixed farming enterprise including beef, sheep and arable, across 202
hectares (499 acres) of arable and grassland, and rent a further 146ha (360.8 acres) of land nearby.

The farm is home to the family’s 40-head pedigree Beef Shorthorn suckler herd, which graze outside all year round. Over the years, improving the genetics of the herd has been a key focus for Paul, with the desire to produce a more efficient cow which is hardy and healthy.

Putting this into practice, replacements are now bred using artificial insemination, allowing Paul to utilise optimal genetics and tighten the herd’s calving pattern with a synchronisation programme.

This reduces days to slaughter and calving index, and also improves the sustainability and efficiency of the herd.

A dairy beef finishing unit is run alongside the suckler enterprise, with 350 dairy cross British Blue cattle housed as part of Morrisons’ elite beef scheme.

Paul says: “The calves arrive on-farm at four months of age and are finished between 16 to 20 months at around 320kg deadweight.”

Since animal health is a key focus of Paul’s, minimising disease risk is paramount. All calves are given a Bovine Rhinotracheitis booster on arrival to reduce antibiotic use, helping to reduce the farm’s carbon footprint due to less days on-farm.

Cattle weight and slaughter data is monitored and analysed every six weeks to ensure optimal productivity and allow for ration adjustments.

“The dairy beef enterprise works well with the rest of the farm, and we are looking to increase numbers to 500 in the near future,” says Paul.

Paul has also been on a journey to improve the farm’s soil health over recent years, which has seen him adopt a minimum tillage system, focus on the relationship between soil pH and nutrient availability, and follow a
more considered approach to muck applications.

On-farm biodiversity has also drastically improved through the planting of wild bird cover and wildflowers, as well as a total of 12,000 metres of hedgerows planted over the last 20 years.