Sustainability

Sustainability in farming is about balancing the needs of the stock and the business with the need to protect and enhance the natural environment. We believe that our customers, our livestock and our land are all of equal importance and we try hard to achieve environmentally friendly husbandry while ensuring our stock are healthy and well fed and that we are able to make a profit.

Our land

Our Land

We do not use chemical sprays on the land but we do use small amounts of fertiliser to obtain early grass growth for the ewes and lambs. We compost and spread the manure from the sheep pens on the fields in the spring to recycle as many nutrients as possible and we are very careful to avoid damage to the pastures and ditches during bad weather. We are required to adhere to the ‘GAEC’ or ‘Good Agricultural and Environmental Condition’ standards – which are laid down by Defra and the Environment Agency.

Our animals

Our Animals

We treat our animals for worms and soil born diseases and protect them against fly strike in summer which is normal practice on sheep farms. We also practice good husbandry techniques to minimise and control disease risk by using ‘clean’ grazing systems to reduce worm levels and to minimise foot problems. We buy in small quantities of cereals and concentrate feed for the twin bearing ewes and to finish lambs during the winter but we aim to make good enough hay and silage to minimise the need for supplementary food.

In round figures, 25 ewes producing 50 lambs will use 150 bales of hay and a tonne of feed per year. We also buy in bedding straw from a local farm to minimise transport costs and fuel use.

The other aspect of livestock sustainability is the length of productive life of the animals themselves. We take this very seriously as buying or rearing replacement stock is very expensive. Typical commercial sheep farms would expect a ewe to have 4 or 5 sets of lambs before she is culled. We aim to exceed these standards by careful health care and proper nutrition. When the ewes do eventually come to the end of their lives, we take them to the same abattoir as the lambs – they are not put through the cull ewe markets which are highly stressful. We then sell them as mutton to some of our more discerning customers.

Our energy consumption

The abattoir is 25 miles from the farm and each batch of lambs requires two return trips. Unfortunately, the local abattoir closed last year but we are seeking ways of reducing this environmental cost. Most of the lamb is sold to customers within a 10 mile radius of the farm and that sold further afield is grouped together and delivered in batches.

The cold room and freezers are all ‘A’ rated appliances to minimise power consumption and we try hard to keep power consumption to a minimum in the barn while the sheep are inside. Our water is metered and is used very sparingly only to water the stock and for hygiene purposes during lambing.