Farmers Mart MAY 2022

Leaving no stone unturned in the pursuit of enterprise at Crakehall

WHEN an electrical fire destroyed the main hub of a farm in North Yorkshire four years ago livestock had to be moved sharpish and it was to signal a wholesale change of direction for a man who had made his name through dairy farming, robotic milking and all things dairy. Tim Gibson of Hunters Hill Farm, Crakehall near Bedale has moved on from that dark day and now operates a variety of agricultural and non-agricultural enter-prises from his 300-acre farm including a beef suckler herd, growing cereals and specialist haylage, a more streamlined dairy equipment business, self-storage units, a soon to be established rural office complex and a new business involving stone. You could say he’s leaving no stone unturned. ‘I’d made the decision to come out of having my own dairy herd of 200 cows earlier that same year,’ says Tim. ‘They’d all gone to Glastonbury in the spring, but I had been running the Brymor herd of 100 Guernseys side by side with my herd on a contract milking basis and we were focusing our efforts on doing well with them.’ ‘The fire had started through the wiring on a brand new machine that was still under warranty and the generator, which was there for backup, was also consumed in the flames. We lost all our mains electric power, the generator, telephones, internet, everything was wiped out and it took Northern Power Grid 18 months to reconnect us.’‘That night the more pressing jobs than worry about that was to make everything safe and get the cows away. They had been miked by robots and needed milking urgently because the power had been off since 9pm and the first trucks arrived to pick up the cows at around 5am.’ ‘Fortunately, a neighbour about 4 miles away put them all through his milking parlour while we sorted out what was to happen. Cows still need miking no matter what.’ Tim’s days of being a dairy farmer of any kind were finally over. ‘I’d kept the last heifers out of my black and white cows that had been bred to the Belgian Blue and they had become the starter of my suckler herd I have today. I now have 20 Belgian Blue X cows that I put to a British Blonde bull and their beef calves are taken through to finishing at around 15-18 months and sold at Darlington livestock market.’ ‘Our original intention had been to sell as stores in the autumn but 2 years ago
we went into a TB1zone, not through anything I had done, and I felt that if I sold as stores that buyers would have to do a post movement test and that would knock the price.’ ‘I’m totally spring calving which allows me to turn them out as they calve and the calves come in during autumn when they are fed on a beef ration. If we can, we try and run the cows fairly extensively by keeping
them out on root crops in winter. I’m using homegrown cereals to finish the calves.’ Tim grows cereals for both the open market and for the cattle, as well as potatoes and his newest contract is to supply haylage for Wensleybale. ‘I’ve 100 acres of winter wheat this year, 70 acres of winter barley, plus a bit of spring barley this year because of the way the rotation works. I rotate 30-40 acres of potatoes. What we’ve tended to do in more recent times is two years grass ley for haylage then two years wheat, one year barley, followed by stubble turnips. We take in around 400 store lambs for the stubble turnips. When they go it is then potatoes in spring, then wheat for two years and back to grass.’ ‘I buy a specialist seed and grow haylage that a contractor ensiles. 100 acres of haylage goes to Wensleybale for racehorse feed. They supply the major stables in Middleham and Newmarket.’ Stone has become Tim’s latest crop and he realised the opportunity through his own farm.
‘Our land type is very sandy, gravelly, stony dry land and it has been a constant problem to us, but there is a solution that I have found really helps many other farmers – and provides a new crop.
‘Stones, as any farmer knows, can cause untold damage to machinery and I now have a machine that alleviates the need to go and hand pick stones, while at the same time providing a new income.
I’m using the stone to build new tracks and roads to the farm for access.’ ‘I started contracting with a stone harvester. It’s a Finnish machine that rakes and harvests and the market value of the stone has made it viable for us to go on to farms conducting stone clearance at a really competitive price. We are now harvesting stone as far away as Newcastle and Harewood.’ Tim was involved with a major robotic milking machine manufacturer for some years but has been totally independent for the past eight years. ‘We still look after robots on farms and I have a couple of engineers. We take out old robots and break for spare parts or sell as whole. We trade all around the world exporting to the likes of Canada, America and Europe. I’ve even got a dealer in Korea who supplies my robot add-ons and upgrades like liners to the Korean market.’ Utilisation of redundant and obsolete farm buildings has brought a new storage business and will soon see a new rural office complex.

‘We have our Yorestore which opened in March 2020 at the beginning of the first lockdown and now offers 40 self storage units. During that time many people who were furloughed moved back to live with their rural families and needed some where to store their belongings. There were all sorts of other reasons too and our stores are constantly busy.’ ‘The new rural office complex is using
the redundant dairy buildings and one of the planning conditions was that new access was built, which meant a 250 yard access road. That’s where the stone comes in very useful.’ If you need your stone harvesting Tim goes under the name Gibson Groundworks. He really is leaving no stone unturned.

“Farm of the Week” Yorkshire Post Feb12th

Farm of the Week: The farmer whose most lucrative crop is stones and who is turning his dairy into rural offices

Beef cattle, racehorse haylage, cereals and root crops make up the mix for one North Yorkshire farmer, but it is an unlikely crop that has been paying dividends more recently.

By Chris Berry
Saturday, 12th February 2022

Tim Gibson farms across around 300 acres at Hunters Hill Farm in Crakehall where he has found that his land type has brought about another unique aspect to his farming enterprise.
Tim said that such has been his success in harvesting stones that he has bought a stone harvester and he is now being sought out by other farmers.

“Stone has been our most profitable crop on average over the last three years. Our land is very sandy and gravelly and it has proven a constant problem. Stones cause untold damage to farm machinery, getting stuck in your drill, breaking power harrows.
We invested in a Finnish machine that rakes and harvests the stone. It alleviates the need to pick up the stones manually and because many other farmers suffer similar problems we are picking up contracting work.”
“The market value of the stone makes it viable for us to offer this service to other farmers. We need to put in a new access road to the farm for rural offices that we are shortly going to be launching. The stone that we have harvested would have cost us thousands if we’d had to buy it.
“The other benefit is our fields are much better. It’s making a big difference to our productivity as well as saving on machinery costs.”
Tim said his regular cropping is of winter wheat, barley, potatoes and racehorse haylage.
I buy a specialist mix of grass for racehorse haylage and this year I have 100 acres of it. It goes to a company called Wensleybale, which has a tremendous record in being fed to successful racehorses. They supply the major racehorse stables in the UK.
“Our rotation is usually two years of grass leys for the haylage followed by two years of wheat, then barley followed by stubble turnips which are followed by potatoes in the spring. After that it is two more years of wheat and then back to grass for two years.
“This year I have 100 acres of winter wheat, 70 acres of winter barley and will grow 40 acres of potatoes, some spring barley and the rest will be down to grass for racehorse haylage.”

Tim came out of dairying in 2017 after a lifetime’s involvement in the sector. He had let go of his 200 Holstein cows six months earlier, but still had around 100 Guernsey cows that he was milking on contract for Brymor Ice Cream at Jervaulx.
An electrical fire that wiped out his power for all mains electric, his generator, phone lines and internet saw an immediate end to any dairying at Hunters Hill.
Tim said it was not how he’d anticipated leaving the milk world.
“We had a decent contract with Brymor, but dairy cows have to be milked and we no longer had the resources. They had been milked by robots here, which meant that some would have milked overnight normally and were ready to milk.
“The fire brigade, having dealt with the fire, left the farm at 2am and the cows began leaving at 4.50am, initially to a dairy farmer four miles away, who put them through his parlour.”
Tim’s Holstein dairy cows had been sold before the fire, but he had kept some of his dairy heifers that had been bred to a Belgian Blue bull and he said those heifers now form part of his suckler herd.
“I now have a herd of 20 Belgian Blue-cross-Holstein suckler cows that I’m currently putting to a British Blonde bull. It’s all spring calving and I’m turning them out as they calve.
“If we can, we run them fairly extensively keeping the cows out on root crops in the winter. The spring-born calves and their mothers come in at autumn while the calves are weaned but then if the weather is right the cows are back out again.
“Our original intention was to sell as stores but we went into a TB1 zone through no fault of our own nor our neighbours and I just felt that stores buyers having to undertake a post-movement test would knock the price.”
Tim said he is still on a learning curve having left the milking sector for beef, but he knows what he’s looking for in his herd.
“I want cows that are easily manageable and when it comes to replacements I will probably purchase what I’m looking for out of others’ dairy herd crosses. I’m looking at bull calves going to market at around 15 months and the heifer calves at more like 18 months.”
Tim has always turned his hand to diversifying his farm enterprise utilising what he has at his disposal. His knowledge of the dairy farming world saw him as one of the first to enter the robotic milking sector and dairy sundries.
Tim said it is a sector that he’s still involved in today even though he is no longer a dairy farmer.
“we trade in exporting robotic milking systems all around the world. Recently that has included Canada, America, Cyprus, Poland and throughout mainland Europe. We have developed robotic milking add-ons and upgrades such as liners. There is even a dealer in Korea who supplies my products to Korean dairy farmers.”

Tim started a new business of self-storage in redundant farm buildings and is currently also working on a new rural office development in what were the old dairy buildings.
He said, rather like his recently most lucrative crop, he is leaving absolutely no stone unturned.

“We opened the self-storage units as an offshoot to the farm in March 2020 just before the first lockdown. It took off and hasn’t let up. We have 40 units.

“The new rural office development that will open later this year was a no-brainer. People are now looking to either work from home or closer to home. We had the buildings and are furbishing them as office space in a fantastic part of the world.”

SmartBow's New Life Ear Tag

Join us at EuroTier

We are delighted to be joining our colleagues from Smartbow GmbH at EuroTier in Hannover from the 15th to 18th November on stand B54 in Hall 11.

Smartbow’s new LIFE ear tag is a winner of the 2016 EuroTier Innovation Awards.  The LIFE ear tag is a new concept in identification tags for cattle.  Not only can it be used for official animal identification but to also aid real-time location and health monitoring.  Due to their low weight, these ear tags can be used on calves from birth, allowing data to be collected seamlessly throughout the animals’ full life cycle.

Individual animals can be located via integrated LEDs whether they are housed or at pasture. The energy supply to the sensors is sufficient to last for several years. The system saves farmers time in terms of behaviour monitoring, general animal husbandry tasks and quality assurance and therefore provides benefits across the full spectrum of production functions.

SmartBow's New Life Ear Tag

Smartbow’s New Life Ear Tag

Tim Gibson Signs Deal with CID LINES

New Distribution Agreement

We are delighted to announce a new agreement with the Belgian hygiene company, CID LINES.

Tim Gibson Ltd will supply the existing dealer network with all CID LINES agricultural products and also look to expand the current number of outlets in the North of England.

Established in 1988 and employing nearly 200 people, CID LINES develop and manufacture a range of hygiene products for the agricultural, horticultural, automotive, food processing and hospitality industries across the World.

Partners of the National Mastitis Council Regional Meeting in 2014, CID LINES are highly involved in research and development programmes to prevent and manage mastitis and have formulated a range of medicinal and biocidal teat dips with this in mind.  A joint project with the University of Ghent’s Veterinary Medicine Research Unit in 2013 saw CID LINES launch the KENO-M software package to help dairy units manage mastitis.

With a large portfolio of high quality products for milking parlours, teat care, hoofcare, calf housing and equipment cleansing, our agreement with CID LINES now enables us to offer a complete range of dairy hygiene products at competitive prices.

Please contact us for more information on the range of CID LINES products or if you are interested in becoming a stockist.

Tim Gibson Signs Deal with CID LINES

Tim Gibson Signs New Deal with CID LINES

See us on stand L4 UK Dairy Day

UK Dairy Day

We are delighted to be attending the UK Dairy Day on Wednesday 14th September where we will be showcasing the SmartBow eartag system and Sieplo mixer buckets on stand L4 next to the CID Lines stand.

For more information, including directions and a timetable of events for the cattle show and sharing knowledge centre, please visit the UK Dairy Day website.

See us on stand L4 UK Dairy Day

See us on stand L4 at the UK Dairy Day

 

Secure Covers for Silage Clamps

Secure Your Silage Clamp With A Secure Cover

Secure your silage clamp with a secure cover…

We are now taking orders for Secure Covers, they reduce surface waste by keeping the silage sheet in close contact with the silage surface. The finely knitted mesh helps to prevent bird damage to the silage sheet and when pulled down, stops birds feeding on the feed face, attending any of these shows? Visit the Secure Covers stand for more information.

Call us on 01677 424284 for more information or to discuss your requirements.

Silage Pit Covered with a Secure Cover

Secure Covers for Silage Clamps

Used Robot Market Still Busy

Watch this space as we have a lot going on: more USED robots coming on soon including Delaval VMS and Fullwood MERLIN units…

Dairy Price Crash Leads to Surge in USED Robot Interest

With the dairy price crash hitting farmers hard we are getting an increased number of calls.

UK users of Robots are finding contracts being cancelled with milk processors and their milk is unwanted leading to them selling their equipment and cows.

Other UK farmers are seeing the slump as an opportunity to expand their farm by either buying in robot trained cows and especially used robots.  We are keen to hear from farmers in either situation.

We have used robots available for sale now, and some coming available soon.  We also have buyers looking for machines to match in with their existing system from all over the world.

For any dairy farm a pre owned robotic milking system offers a great saving over new, in these uncertain times when high capital investments look risky when returns are not certain.

Please call Tim Gibson for more information or a valuation of your equipment 07711 257776