AN award-winning Holmes Chapel dairy farmer has been given the title of Cheshire’s new NFU County Chairman.

Ray Brown was officially announced as the chairman of the union’s Cheshire branch at an annual dinner held at the MacDonald Portal Premier Golf and Country Club in Tarpoley earlier this week.

The 54-year-old, of The Orchard Farm, is married to Jill, has two sons, Adam and Ryan, and a daughter Mel. He farms 550 acres of land where he keeps the 3-strong Bidlea herd of Holstein Friesian cows.

Ray’s milk is sold into Fayrefield Foods and he sells 80 pedigree bulls for breeding and any surplus heifers go into the pedigree sales at Beeston Auction.

As well as the core farming business, the Brown family business is also going through the process of gaining planning permission for the creation of an anaerobic digestion plant half a mile away from the farm.

Ray said: “At the age of eighteen I started milking three times a day because the only way to expand was to have more cows on a high input system. There was very little available land for expansion.

“I milked three times a day for 25 years getting up at 1am in the morning. Now we produce more off grass and only milk twice so I can have a lie in these days until 4.15am.”

Ray was the youngest ever farmer to win the ‘National Dairy Farmer of the Year’ award in 1984 at 24 years of age.

He has a long history with the YFC and NFU. Ray was Cheshire Federation of Young Farmers chairman in 1984 and 1985, was NFU Holmes Chapel branch chairman between 1998 and 2000 and was NFU North West dairy board chairman for six years.