TWO Yorkshire farms are regional finalists in a national competition.

Chris Foster, of Shortwaite Farm, Whitby, and John Banks and family of Wildon Grange, Coxwold, now go through to the finals of the Semex Healthy Herd Competition to compete for the title of the UK's Healthiest Herd.

The Fosters milk 200 cows and are committed to achieving and maintaining a high health status. Vet Pippa Middlemas, from Clevedale Veterinary Practice, is an integral member of the farm team and has the main role of optimising the health and welfare of the herd. The farm's attention to detail on cow comfort made a real impression on the judges.

Mr Foster said: "We are pleased to have won this award. We have invested a lot of time and effort into our cows so it is great to be recognised in a national competition."

John Banks, an Arla farmer owner and member of the Arla UK 360 scheme, milks 630 cows at Wildon Grange. The judges were impressed with the business’ considerable investment in infrastructure, technology and staff to ensure a herd of happy healthy cows.

It was also evident that the farm team works closely with their vets at Bishopton Vet Group. Mr Banks said: "We are pleased to be recognised by Semex for the work we have done to make the very best health and welfare for our cows.

"This award is a credit to our team for their hard work, to Bishopton Vets for working alongside and advising us, and to the members of the Arla/Asda Pathfinder discussion group for giving us the ideas and the confidence to develop our herd and business to where it is today."

The competition was open to all UK dairy farmers irrespective of size, breed, farming system or calving pattern.

Michael Dennison, UK National Sales Manager for Semex said: "We were very impressed with the standard of entries all of whom truly embrace the Semex ethos of having a heathy herd is the key to future success. Our judges had faced a real challenge in narrowing the farms down to the final six."

The judges were Rob Drysdale, UK Veterinary Consultant; Phil Halhead, Lancashire dairy farmer; Mike Green, Editor of British Dairying Magazine; and Andrew Axford, Semex Regional Sales Manager.

Mr Drysdale said: "Having been asked to judge this new competition for Semex, I was really excited to see so many farm businesses who fitted the remit for a 'healthy herd'. Selecting the regional winners was not easy and all six finalists demonstrate excellent levels of all-round farm, business and herd health."

The other four finalists are Karen and Tom Halton, Halton Farms, Congleton, Cheshire; Rhodri Ellis, Denbigh, Wales; James Lywood, Billinghurst, West Sussex; and David Hamilton, Barr Farm, Stirlingshire.

Three finalists will be announced in November with the overall winner announced at the Semex International Dairy Conference in January 2020.