Updated: Oct 17, 2020

Ian Norbury, Dairy Farm, Mobberley, Cheshire

A decade ago, Ian Norbury came back to the family farm full time with his dad part-time. They had milked cows but then got into sucklers. The ethos needed to change in order to make money and Ian decided to go pedigree. Mobberley Angus and the beef he produces is making great strides. Ian has increased the numbers of cattle from 60 cows six years ago and is aiming for 150 suckler cows +followers to total 300 to make full use of the available land. Stock is born on-farm and stays until slaughter or sold as breeding stock. 

The Mobberley Angus brand is now achieving a good price and reputation for quality beef. Ian has recently started selling to a local butcher in Manchester who sells to local pub trade and chains and likes to know the provenance of the meat, the butcher is active on social media, which is good for everyone. 

It was on a farm open day in Cornwall that Ian saw the KiwiTech water trough – 

“This was life changing for my rotational grazing journey, it meant we could start using a back fence, as the trough can be moved to each new Cell of fresh grazing, whereas we had been relying on the concrete troughs left over from our dairy cow enterprise, which meant the cattle would walk over the grazed land to drink”.

Ian thought that the cows would trash this small water trough – not much bigger than a dog water bowl! So he bought one and ran it off the concrete water trough via some blue pipe – he was amazed by how it kept the group of 50 cows watered, this was a game changer! He has since upgraded to bigger troughs for bigger groups of 50 +, having the blue pipe with taps on it run around the blocks, for ease of moving – which is so easy to do. The biggest obstacle Ian feels to rotational grazing is infrastructure and ensuring water was the main thing, once this was sorted the game changed. 

“Our Mains electrical unit runs electric fence over 250 acres, is a PEL820 with a remote, this goes around all the fields and temporary fencing feeds off this to create the cells. The power is amazing, as it runs some double fenced lines as well”.

Starting with strip grazing, but the introduction of a back fence, started Ian's grass addiction! Within 24 hours of the field be closed you start to see re-growth – it’s like magic! 

“Electric fencing is addictive! It is like a Swiss Army Knife – there are so many ways to use it, and to come run power off it. It is so fast and quick to put up permanently and bring temporary fence off it and tidy and smart”. 

Pushing 150 cows and calves down a track with electric fence, Ian knows they won’t break through. He used the outdoor weaning method; cows and calves are split in the yard, then calves put into a cell, which is double fenced, a temporary fence is put alongside this 1m away and the cows are put into the adjoining cell. Each day the cattle are moved a paddock/cell apart, this is to keep them all calmer and it works. No break outs and less bellowing! The 1st year, he left 2 older cows in with the calves, in order to teach the calves to move into new blocks and keep them calmer – however the cows were naughty and their two calves were the escapees! 

Having permanent electric fenc