Susie & Mark Mottershead

M & S Mottershead,
The Brook,

Third generation farmers Mark and Susie are milking 180 Holstein cows plus followers on an all-year round calving system.

Last year saw them completely overhaul their calf care system through a multi-faceted approach, which is now at the heart of their data-led business. This has involved revolutionising their housing with the construction of a new bespoke calf shed, completely designed and tailored to calf needs to achieve optimum health.

Susie and Mark, who sell their milk to the Co-op on a Muller contract, are utilising data to now make smarter decisions about calf rearing and the future of their herd, which are currently yielding an average of 9,500 litres per cow.

 Working with their vet, information was gathered on birthweights, subsequent tracking every two weeks, calf total proteins from colostrum, health incidents, symptoms and treatment. The results revealed they were raising poor replacements for their herd after it was confirmed calves were losing weight after birth rather than gaining weight, repeated health issues within the first eight weeks of life and inconsistent colostrum management.

Data assessment 

The daily diligent assessment of data has provided the metrics to develop robust management of an ever-evolving system which has seen beneficial changes to care routines, feeding volumes and types and improved health. Average weight gains have increased from 0.57kg/day to 1kg/day, with a target to achieve +1.1kg/day.

Their calves previously used to take on average 10-12 weeks to double their birth weight, but this is now achieved in seven to eight weeks. T

The calf health passports allow the Mottersheads to track a calf’s journey to weaning. It allows them to highlight the cows, and AI sires, which are producing the best performing calves, which informs future breeding decisions.

 Following the completion of their calf rearing unit, attention has now turned to cow care and comfort.  Plans to install a new milking parlour and build a new cubicle shed which provides a more controlled and comfortable environment are also in place.

Proudest moment:  

“Our proudest moment to date is maintaining the momentum of change on the farm while balancing family life with three small children. Since we took the reigns we have built new silage pits, straw shed, cubicle shed, an infrastructure of cow tracks, muck store and separator, bore hole, calf rearing unit to name a few.  It’s been a very busy time but we are excited by projects we still have to come.”

The Brook Facts

  • 180 milkers plus followers
  • Overhauled calf rearing system
  • Investment across core area across the dairy unit
  • All-year-round calving system
  • Supplying Co-op
  • Average yield 9,500 litres per cow