In January some of the LLM team and farmers from across all three branches jetted off to Northern Italy. The idea was dreamt up at our Lancs Summer BBQ social and with the help of Bay Farm Tours and Alfonso Camassa who acted as tour guide, translator and group leader, we were able to bring what seemed like a great idea into an even better reality!

We were based in the small city of Mantua, home to Rigoletto for any opera fans out there! The trip was designed to coincide with the Fieragricola agricultural show which happens every 2 years in the beautiful city of Verona. We were also lucky to have some great contacts for vets and farmers in the region who welcomed us onto their farms with open arms!
On our first day we visited two large dairy farms, one an award winning enterprise milking 1000 cows producing milk on a liquid milk contract and the other milking 1900 cows producing milk for their own Parmigiano Reggiano cheese factory on site. We got to see the whole cheese making process in the factory which, is producing 132 cheeses every day! We got a sneak peak at their new cow shed with space for 800 cows and 10 robotic milking units which was going to be a huge change from their 3x daily milking in two 16 by 16 abreast parlours. We had some very interesting discussion with the farmers and the vet team particularly around their antibiotic recording system which is overseen by the government and vets are monitored by their antibiotic prescribing volumes. Biosecurity, strict vaccination protocols and keeping closed herds all aid the reduction in antimicrobial use and disease control – particularly with Johne’s which is pretty much non-existent. We received excellent hospitality at the Parmigiano farm with a huge buffet lunch, wine and the opportunity to sample a 3-year aged cheese which weighed 37kg!

On our second day we went to the agricultural show which aswell as the more familiar dairy, beef and arable related displays we are used to seeing, also had a fantastic range of machinery for olive farms and vineyards which was very interesting to see. Again, the Italian hospitality was second to none as we arrived to a prosecco breakfast organised for us by one of the exhibitors ‘Rota Guido’ (who manufacture and install livestock equipment and machinery and were responsible for the large robot shed we had seen the day before). In the evening we explored ‘fair Verona’ and enjoyed a BBQ multi-species ‘mixed grill’ feast!

On our third day we went to visit a large family-owned beef farm who buy in stores in the form of purebred Limousin, Charolais and Aubrac breeds from France and fatten them for their own abattoir. All stock are vaccinated for respiratory disease (BVD, PI3 and RSV, IBR and Pasteurella) and kept in quarantine for six weeks prior to being mixed in groups in sheds. They process just over 1000 animals a week! They are also unable to slaughter an animal that has received any injection in the 120 days prior to kill date so they are very focused on disease prevention over cure! We then spent an afternoon touring a winery and sampling some of their produce alongside a traditional meal from the region.

Day four was our departure day. We were all very sad to head back up the road to Bergamo airport leaving the crisp, dry weather and blue sky behind us, especially when we landed in a very grey and soggy Manchester!
We are looking forward to being able to offer the tour again and take some more of you with us hopefully for the next Fieragricola in 2026! Watch this space!