Ryan Coates, 27, runs Newtoncroft Farms, alongside his father Brian and uncle Martin in Newton Harcourt, Leicestershire. He is Leicestershire Young Farmers’ Club county chairman, vice-chairman of Midlands and East Anglia Hereford Breeders’ Association and a member of UK Hereford Youth.
I have worked full-time at home since 2012, after leaving Moulton College with a national diploma in agriculture, although always helping during holidays.
The farm consists of 405 hectares (1,000 acres) of predominately arable production, including wheat, barley, oats, beans and rape, alongside 25 pedigree Hereford cows under the Newtoncroft prefix.
I have a particular love for Herefords and I am involved with the daily management of our herd. I also keep six pedigree cows under my own RTC prefix, along with my own small flock of pedigree Texels, under the Newtoncroft name.
Newtoncroft Herefords was founded in 1974 when my grandfather sold the dairy herd and wanted to keep my dad and uncle interested in farming. He bought a cow and a calf from a dispersal sale and that is how it all started and nowadays my uncle and I generally manage the cattle.
Herefords are easy calving with great temperament, fantastic tasting beef and an ever increasing commercial value, particularly due to the increase in awareness of sustainable food production and the breed’s ability to thrive in a less intensive environment.
We have had some great show successes over the years, most recently including reserve junior male at the Royal Three Counties Show last year with Newtoncroft 1 Renzo, which was sold to Speirs Farms, Luton.
After an abysmal winter, we have now started working ground for spring drilling. We did not get the floods in February like some parts of the country, but between September 23 and November 4, we had almost 14in of rain.
The farm is also home to 50 commercial ewes, mainly Scotch Half-breds. I missed most of lambing as I was given the opportunity of a lifetime and was chosen to lead a team of three other fellow young Hereford breeders to New Zealand in mid-March to compete in the young breeders competition at the World Hereford Conference.
This trip was made possible through the Hereford Cattle Society’s travel bursary and I met some fantastic people, looking after some excellent stock.
I thought agriculture at home was in fairly challenging times, but after going to New Zealand and seeing how they had to cope with the abandonment of subsidies, I think there is a lot we can learn and promise for the future. New Zealand farmers are smart thinkers and the scale they are operating on is impressive.
My involvement in UK Hereford Youth since its inception four years has been very rewarding. The enthusiasm co-ordinator Emma Smith has for our organisation is tremendous, while managing to keep the programme fresh and successfully giving the future generation an insight into the beef industry.
I have learned different ways to prepare stock, improved my stockjudging skills, and forged some great friendships with people across the country.
The threat of coronavirus has changed my plans for the year, and it looks like I might actually get some work done.
In a normal year, we attend up to nine summer shows, including the Royal Welsh, Royal Three Counties, Royal Norfolk, Suffolk County and the National Poll Hereford Show at Moreton-in-Marsh, only being home for one week in June.
I am Leicestershire Young Farmers’ Club (YFC) county chairman, but things have come to a complete standstill with National cancelling all competitions due to spread of Covid-19.
I have been a member of Norton and Gaulby YFC for 10 years, and I have gained a lot from being involved. I am a past club chairman and led the club through our most successful year ever, winning the county rally on my own farm, winning the county championship and also the club efficiency competition.