WHAT THE JUDGES SAY
“Carl and Natalie are comfortable working in any dairy system and set exceptionally high standards in the herdcare of cows, which has helped them secure work across the length and breadth of the UK.”
Mornios Contract Herdcare, Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire
There can be few greater responsibilities in farming than to be left with an unfamiliar herd of dairy cows while the manager or owner takes time off for holidays.
But for Carl and Natalie Martins, this is now a regular occurrence, and the husband-andwife team have more than 130 customers from the top of Scotland to the tip of Cornwall, Jersey, Northern Ireland and everywhere in between.
In doing so, they have developed their skills to the point where they can slot into any dairy system, whether it be abreast parlours, rotaries or robots. Their 36 years of herd management experience also means they’re employed by farms to train new staff in the different systems, as well as helping with larger block-calving herds at peak times and providing relief herdcare for robotic units.
2010 Year the business started
130 Customers across the country
2 Full-time staff
36 Years’ experience in the dairy industry
12-24 Average handover in hours for new farms
Eye on costs
The Mornios business is based on very low operational costs. Farms usually provide Carl and Natalie with accommodation and they do without a permanent office, instead managing their work on the road and from the different sites they work at.
Laptops, smartphones and cloud-based software allow them to access clients’ data from the boot of a car and helps them to seamlessly slot into the system, embracing the responsibilities of the regular herdsperson.
The low-cost, high-profit business relies on a serious dose of hard work and a willingness to spend extended periods of time away from home, but costs are also kept in check by price checking, bulk buying, negotiating and avoiding carrying too much stock.
Invoicing is prompt – twice a month – and deposits are taken from customers prior to work commencing. Work is charged by the hour and self-employed contractors are called in at peak times to avoid carrying excess labour when it’s not needed.
Customers and staff
Mornios’ customer base is particularly diverse and all have different needs, from small, family-run herds to huge commercial enterprises.
The company’s aim is to provide work priced to compete with a relief milking agency, yet offer extra services such as foot-trimming and artificial insemination. Given their qualifications and skills, Carl and Natalie are also able to spot sick, lame or bulling cows, which are often missed by relief staff.
It’s unusual in that the partners in the business actually do the work on farms and know their clients well, which helps develop particularly strong relationship. They take the time to note important events for each of their customers – such as birthdays or school holidays – and can make sure they’re on hand to fill gaps when herdspeople are to take time off.
Staff training is particularly high on the agenda. Knowledge of first aid, PPE and manual handling, as well as ATV and telehandler licenses, are a necessity, and health and safety is taken very seriously, too.
Carl and Natalie are keen to take on ambassadorial roles for farming. They document their work through social media, showing the different milking methods employed across the variety of farms they work on.
They undertake milking demos at local shows and take time to explain the intricacies of dairy farming to interested visitors. They also provide training on different aspects of cow husbandry and are looking to expand their service to colleges, universities and Young Farmers Clubs. Carl is also an alumni mentor at Nottingham Trent University, where he shares his passion for UK agriculture.