Park & District Farmers Study Visit August 2017

This four day visit included beef, dairy and sheep farms in Wales, North Pennines and Northamptonshire!

Thursday 10 August 2017

Berryfields Farm, Northamptonshire
The first visit was to a beef finishing unit who also produce a complete range of cattle and sheep feeds manufactured using their own formulations. The CEO, John Bell explained the benefits of an integrated beef supply chain on this impressive 2000 head per year Dairy Beef finishing system. The group saw a complete supply chain taking 16 week old dairy bred calves arriving on farm at 120 to 140 kg using their own high energy feeds to achieve a uniform 600 Kg liveweight ready to be sold direct to Dunbia supplying both the Co-op and Lidl.

Friday 11 August 2017

Ruthin Farmers Auction Company ( North Wales)

On Friday the group visited a livestock market in Ruthin hosted by Auctioneer Emyr Lloyd. The mart currently employs six full time and 15 part time staff and sells 3,000 lambs a week, 800 ewes and every class of cattle and sheep. It also runs machinery sales, a sheep dog sale and specialist Ram and Bull Sales. During the visit the group saw an auction of Prime Lambs and Cull Ewes

The market opened in 1992 and in 2015 they officially opened an extension which contains a new multipurpose hall for animal sales which can be used by the public for conferences and private events such as weddings. The extension also includes office space and extended the canteen.

The market webpage and Facebook carries an up-to-date diary of the specialist events and some useful livestock photographs.

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Jersey herd with Belgian Blue Cross
Richard Wynne, Company Chairman of Ruthin Farmers Auction then took the group to his farm nearby.

Richard Wynne, Company Chairman of Ruthin Farmers Auction then took the group to visit his farm nearby. Richard who farms along with his two sons has a 300 Jersey herd and uses a Belgian Blue cross to produce quality beef stock. Richard started the farm in 1960 with 54 acres. Over the years the farm has grown in size until it now comprises about 1,000 acres with some being owned by his two sons.

The Jersey Herd  is achieving premium milk prices from a local cheese producer and a high energy diet is assured from home-grown maize silage and high quality grass silage.  

While the cattle can be grass reared the cows are housed both summer and winter and a new cubicle house is nearing completion. The design features new bedded  cubicles where the cows will lie on  a mix of lime, sand and  sawdust and the dung passages  will use  automatic  Scrapers.

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Limousin Cattle and North Country Hill Cheviot Ewes
The final visit of the day was to a hill farm where we met  Glyn  who is both  a Limousin Cattle Breeder and a hill sheep farmer. Farming in partnership with his father Glyn manages 486 hectares (1,200 acres) and runs a suckler herd of 140 cows mainly of Limousin  and  some Belgian Blue. Stock Bulls are generally purchased through the Carlisle Bull sales and the best heifers are retained as replacements while the males and  remainder are sold as store cattle when  aged around  12 to14 months of age.

The farm also runs 1,000 North Country Hill Cheviots which are crossed with a Texel.  The better type gimmer lambs are retained as replacements with the rest being  sold to a finisher.

Glyn is also a popular Suckler Calf judge and he  also exhibits his own stock at national events. Testimony   to his eye for a good animal, Glyn recently  won Reserve Champion heifer at Agri Expo, and  had a pedigree steer win Supreme Champion at the Royal Welsh Winter Fair.

Saturday 12 August 2017

Swaledale Sheep and Limousin Cattle, County Durham
Tom and Kay Hutchinson are tenant hill farmers in the North Pennines breeding Swaledale sheep and Limosin Blue cattle. Tom is the son of a policeman but inherited his love of farming from his grandparents who had a farm nearby. Kay grew up on a smallholding but tenancy was the only way they could get into farming themselves. They rent their farm on a 15 year lease  from the Raby Estate of Lord Barnard which has many tenanted farms, houses and cottages  in the area.

Kay had no knowledge of Swaledales until she met Tom who passed on his passion for the breed because of their ability to thrive and rear lambs in the worst possible conditions. Kay works for the local auctioneers and Tom does contract shearing to subsidise the farm income.

The farm family featured in the film ‘Addicted to sheep” shown by the BBC which captures a year in their life as north Pennines tenant farmers.

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