Farm Worker delivers a positive attitude for the livestock and her colleagues

Back Farm Worker delivers a positive attitude for the livestock and her colleagues

Working alongside her family on a dairy farm in the South West can bring its challenges. But Holly Atkinson delivers a positive attitude to deliver for the livestock and her colleagues. Farmers Guardian journalist, Ellie Layton reports.

Holly Atkinson started her career in agriculture as a farm vet, despite not coming from a farming background. However, a change in career path has still allowed her to apply her previous skills in her day-to-day work. Holly is now based on a seven-site organic dairy unit in South Devon, working as part of a large team and helping manage the youngstock with the farm manager and farm owner.

She described winning Farm Worker of the Year at last year’s British Farming Awards as a ‘complete honour’. Holly says: “It was an absolute honour to be nominated for the award, but I genuinely thought that would be as far as it went. To be shortlisted and interviewed was even more unexpected, let alone going on to win the award. I am incredibly grateful.

“Farming is so important; we feed a nation and beyond. There are misconceptions in the industry, especially with the wider public, but through awards like this we can raise awareness and show what we really do and the truth of why agriculture is so important. Evenings like the British Farming Awards are a brilliant excuse to get some of the industry together, and we can celebrate the good work within the industry.”

The farm she is a key part of spans more than 405 hectares (1,000 acres). Caulston Farm is part of the Carswell Group, a family dairy business covering 1,214ha (3,000 acres) across Devon, Cornwall and Somerset. The farm is managed as a team by Adam, Holly and their son, three-year-old Abel. A powerful combination of data-driven farm management is used by Adam, which is complemented by medical insight from Holly.

This is resulting in a thriving, forage-based system across their 600-head herd made up of Kiwicrosses, a cross between Holstein-Friesian and Jersey. This New Zealand-originated breed strives to provide the best of both breeds, high butterfat and a light frame from the Jersey, along with the higher output from the Holstein-Friesian.

Holly’s good work has not stopped at the farmyard, as she has the welfare of both her animals and workmates in mind. This led her to train as a mental health first aider to promote mental health with her colleagues. Carrying on her work on social media she has created her Instagram page ‘Face Your Thoughts’ to help support the farming community. With a keen eye for drawing, she captures the struggles many farmers face by doodling about the thoughts which go through farmers’ heads daily and how to overcome them.