Dairy cows on farm

Taking the reins of the family farm successfully

Over the last few years, third-generation farmer and Cornwall Farm Business Award winner Avril Trehane has slowly but surely taken command of her family farm. She believes doing this successfully is due to both her experiences outside the farm and a gradual increase in responsibility.

Avril’s father Ian took over Linnick Farm near Launceston in Cornwall from his father at a young age and so when Avril was a similar age, he was quite happy to pass on control to his daughter.

The Trehane’s 100-acre farm has been predominantly beef cattle, buying in and rearing 100-130 calves a year to sell mainly as stores.

Ian wanted Avril to understand how challenging farming can be, particularly the financial pressures. “He was keen to introduce me to the financial side of things early. I would help in the farm office paying bills, which taught me about cash flow and how quickly money can disappear. It was an incredibly useful lesson.”

Avril’s involvement in the farm grew markedly after she returned from working in New Zealand on a dairy farm. “I was officially brought into the partnership which I think was Dad’s way of saying he didn’t want me to go away again!”

For the first two years, Avril combined her work on Linnick Farm with relief milking elsewhere to support the farm’s growth. “Everything I earned went into the farm. This meant I was able to invest in more calves without a loan, which strengthened our financial position. And as I invested more my influence grew, and I soon found I was making most of the business decisions.”

In the three years since, it has been full steam ahead for Avril, overseeing changes to bolster farm productivity. “We are now contract rearing 250 dairy calves a year, having built capacity through the addition of a new shed on the farm.”

“We’re also improving the quality of our beef cattle to increase animal performance and have extended our sheds to house more calves, raising both welfare and output.”

And that’s not all.

“We were recently granted permission to establish a TB-restricted enterprise, allowing us to increase our numbers over winter and generate additional income to build business resilience.”

Avril’s endeavours with Ian’s help and support have seen Linnick Farm almost triple its output in five years and puts the farm in a great position for the future.

“Looking ahead, we want to consolidate what we are currently doing as the recent expansion has been quite rapid. We want to concentrate on investing back into the farm, improving the infrastructure we have and what we’re doing with it. We shall also be looking to see what grants and schemes we can apply for under the new government legislation.”

Avril believes her work off farm to help fund the family farm’s operation and the gradual move into the different facets of running a farm have led to their success.