AF Members win accolades at agricultural awards
At the Farmers Weekly Awards Ian Farrant of Sam Farrant & Sons was named Beef Farmer of the Year, new Member William Baillie was crowned Dairy Farmer of the Year, Guy King of GSK Pigs took the Pig Farmer of the Year crown, and William Haupt of Woburn Farms was named Farm Manager of the Year.
Ian Farrant farms in Herefordshire where he finishes 650 dairy-cross calves sourced from his family’s dairy herd, rearing them on a forage based system. He has focused on creating healthy soils and reducing reliance on fertiliser and imported feed. Embracing sustainability, Ian rears his animals on multi-species lays and produces concentrates in-house, and has moved to a total mix ration using as much home grown feed as possible.
Ian has also planted hazel nuts on 6ha of difficult land, and hopes that these will be in full production by 2023, and also rears poultry between his trees, which sell into the premium market
William Baillie has a herd of 400 fully housed cows in Lanarkshire. Because nearly a third of the farm is in a floodplain William focuses on milk yield, milking three times a day. He operates a zero grazing strategy to reduce costs, and feeds a forage for it’s high protein and energy content. He has implemented genomic testing, selecting for fertility, profitable lifetime index, fat and protein, amongst other traits.
With three children all keen to be involved William has also diversified into direct milk sales, selling fresh milk, milkshakes, homemade cakes and hot drinks from The Milk Hut, an upcycled shipping container on the farm.
Guy King started working with pigs as a YTS trainee, and now rears 8,600 sows at nine outdoor sites in Norfolk and Suffolk, employing nearly 60 staff.
He has used skills learned as a mechanic and builder to grow his business from scratch. Now seven of his units rear pigs owned by BQP where GSK Pigs supplies the labour, land, machinery and equipment. They also rear 400 Greenlane Organics sows from farrow to finish for the Organic Pig Company, and a 200 sow unit for Bruntona Rare Breeds.
Guy is an advocate of grass leys, and has seen a dramatic improvement in soil condition when drilled into cereal stubble, with the pigs moving in the following spring.
Managing Woburn Farms since 2018, William Haupt led a move away from heavy equipment, and embraced a conservation-led approach and low traffic farming. Challenged with blackgrass, increasing fixed costs and a narrow rotation when he arrived, William concentrates on attention to fine detail, has reduced the machinery roster and broadened the farms enterprise base.
Woburn Farms now do their own agronomy and have increased the crops in rotation to include malting barley, milling wheat, pea seed and a spring wheat blend. William has also grown the contracting income more than 20-fold. He has also set up collaborations with other Woburn businesses growing silage and forage for the deer enterprise and safari park.
On top of these deserving winners, at last weeks British Farming Awards Daniel Fabb & Helen Parr took the silver award in the Beef Farmer of the Year award and John Fare took silver in the Grassland Farmer of the Year category.
Daniel Fabb and Helen Parr run 170 pedigree polled Herefford suckler cows on the Fens and also run a hay and straw contracting business. As first generation farmers they have had to work hard to build their business.
Coming from a dairy background, Helen takes genetics seriously and they supply their pedigree polled Hereford genetics around the world for both beef and dairy customers, as well as selling bulls, cows and semen across the globe. The herd is fed a forage based diet, as well as year round grazing on herbal leys.
Changing his system to maximise grass use, John Fare now block calves his 290 cow herd in spring and autumn, to help manage his grass and silage supply. He makes multi grass silage to reduce reliance on third party concentrates.
Soil samples are taken every two years to check nutrient levels, and grass is measured weekly to calculate total tonnes of dry matter grown. John invests in the ‘infrastructure’ of the grassland system, and has seen improvement in resilience to more extreme weather conditions, as well as reducing the requirement for artificial fertiliser by introducing clover.
Biodiversity has been encouraged, with wildlife flourishing in the 10 miles of hedgerows, and further plans for a willow bed to enhance species diversity.
Of course all of our Members are winners simply by being part of the UKs largest farmer owned buying cooperative, but let’s join in recognition of these six marvellous farming businesses who have been recognised by their peers for their excellence.