Tom Herbert tells us how, with a different way of thinking and a small investment he utilised existing on farm assets and increased farm productivity…….
Tom owns a mixed farm near Brackley, Northamptonshire
“We are a 340 acre mixed farm, 200 acres arable split half into winter cereals and half into spring cereals. Anything destined for spring cropping is planted with forage or cover crops. We run 50 suckler cows calving in January. We lamb 150 ewes and 30 ewe lambs in February, we aim for the majority of lambs to be away by the end of July, or before the summer price drop. We also buy in between 300 and 500 store lambs each autumn to finish over the winter.”
The animals on Tom’s farm are used to compliment the arable business,
“The farm is run on a low input system with the aim of producing as much forage as we can and finishing all lambs from grass or forage crops. I am of the idea that stock fit my system and not me changing practices to suit individual animals.”
Tom tells us why re-evaluating his farm led to the investment of a mobile yard;
“After the wet weather this year handling sheep in our current system was becoming hard work as it is sited on soil based floor. The sheep didn't like it and neither did we. The solutions were to put a building over the system we had, build a new system or have a mobile system. As we were going to make this investment it had to be for the long term and that meant we had to consider reducing labour input as well as improving stock flow. We considered a mobile yard as it meant we could make use of existing buildings that lie empty in the winter months but are used for grain in the summer. It also meant we could take the yard to the stock when convenient.”
Animal stress is often cited as a benefit to having a mobile yard but Tom says there are lots of benefits;
“We have improved stock flow and reduced labour costs. The stock are less stressed and therefore weight gain isn't effected, speeding up times to market. We are of the opinion that every investment needs to earn its keep and serve more than one purpose”.
Why invest in a Rappa;
“We felt that the design of the hurdles were good and strong and meant jumping sheep or dogs would not break their legs with the vertical bars at the top. Other yards were cheaper but after looking at them we felt the build quality of the Rappa was much stronger and would stand the pressure of larger mobs of sheep. I like the fact that Rappa is built in England we could get the parts we wanted very quickly with a good back up service.”
Tom tells us about his future plans;
“The aim of the business to expand numbers of sheep but with tighter margins it means that extra labour will not be an option. The yard will continue to be expanded as and when we need extra hurdles or a bigger drenching race as numbers increase”.