Gaddesden Herd 2

Going back to the advice so freely given at Tring market, I decided the way forward was to produce jersey cream. The calves and pigs would do just as well on skimmed milk and hopefully I would get a good return on the jersey cream.

The Dairy Hygiene Inspectorate had to be approached. Miss Mary Hay duly appeared to make recommendations as to how I could best adapt my buildings to meet the then standards.

It was then back to the farm sales to look for cream separators. The first one I acquired was hand operated. A bell rang when you got up to speed with the handle. It kept the operators very fit, although I did not have many volunteers. The second separator was electric and nearly new!

The reason for its sale was its appetite for eating main drive gears. These could only be purchased at great expense from Sweden. Numerous second hand machines followed this. The last of which was purchased from Hatfield Park and is still in use today. The majority of the cream from these various machines went in bulk to Ashridge Management College; however some was sold in the village shop in Little Gaddesden.

As the cream sales increased as did the cow numbers. The three quarters of an acre at my parents’ home was overstocked. I then rented some grazing land a quarter of a mile away on the other side of what we called the common. The milking portion of the herd had to be moved twice a day in the summer, back and forth across the common for milking.

This was very time consuming, not very conclusive to being at work for eight o’clock sharp. The fulltime job had to go. The cows alone could not support a wife, two young children and me. I became self-employed doing any work that came to hand between milking, car repairing, agricultural labouring and driving. I scraped together two hundred pounds for a tractor.

This was a nineteen fifty-seven Fordson. The reason it was brought cheaply was that it had a blown up engine. A replacement was found and fitted. My then main contracting job was spreading chicken manure. Locally there was a large chicken farm where the birds were kept in cages. The manure from these was very strong and runny. The Fordson had no cab so if the wind was in the wrong direction I got covered in it. To protect myself I wore an old hessian sack. As you can imagine when I got home my clothes had to remain out in the garden, sometimes they were so bad the only place for them was the bin!

By now I had twelve cows enough to start milk recording. As I needed high butterfat for the cream, I needed to know that the cows were producing this. (Diet can be altered to increase butterfat). Mr David Watson from National Milk Records duly turned up to survey my operation. In due course milk recording took place once a month from then on.

Early in 1975 it came to my notice that there was a scheme going called The Jersey Improvement Project. This was a young jersey bull-testing project. Any progeny could be registered with the Jersey Society free. Normally it would cost seven pounds to register a calf, a lot of money in the seventies. I duly applied to become a member of The Jersey Cattle Society of United Kingdom. My name went before the board. Three herd prefixes had to be forwarded and then the board chose Gaddesden. I had to wait until 1978 for my first heifer calf to be born. The first calf was Gaddesden Mittens Muffin born 16th February 1978 followed by Gaddesden Wilcots Bluebell on 20th September 1978.