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In your field: James and Isobel Wright - 'A county council tenancy gives us security to expand the herd'

On our first date Isobel told me I was the first farmer she had ever met. Our second date was a trip to see my sheep and we ended up dagging out some fly strike and she didn’t balk then and hasn’t since.

That was four years ago and we are now a month or so away from the arrival of our first child.

 

The past 12 months are proving to be our most exciting yet. In autumn we won a seven-year county council tenancy of about 22 hectares, which is just 15 minutes from our yard. This gives us the opportunity to create our own fodder for the first time, although we have just had to buy a rather expensive load of hay as we were short. We won’t be caught out again.

 

This opportunity gives us real security to expand the herd and claim some entitlements from the national reserve.

 

When we moved to Bushovel, the buildings were classed as redundant on our tenancy. This winter, for the first time we feel as if we’ve got our routine down and the cows have only escaped the shed once this year, which was a regular occurrence in winters past.

 

We are using less straw and the farm is generally easier to manage while wintering the cows. I am thankful to the farmers on Twitter who have given us advice on the improvements to make – that knowledge is priceless.


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Calving is also fast approaching, with the cows due on February 15 and Isobel due on March 1.

 

Although a small herd, we scanned at 100 per cent this year and our first group of heifers born on-farm are due to calve now. At 23 months old they are looking fantastic and we are genuinely excited to see what their calves look like in a couple of months.

 

Using Breedr, we weigh our calves every eight weeks and found that they had taken a real knock before Christmas. Next year I think we will introduce silage earlier into their diet as we think the rumen wasn’t quite prepared for the switch.

 

We have weighed them since and they are now motoring on silage and 2kg of nuts a day. We will hopefully turn these out during the first week of March, depending on the weather.

 

We are incredibly grateful to our neighbours who have offered to check on the cows during calving if we get stuck in the hospital for a few days.

 

Next time we write for Farmers Guardian we will hopefully have a couple of calves on the ground and perhaps a new baby to join the farm.

New writers

James and Isobel Wright are new entrants and halfway through their first 45ha five-year Farm Business Tenancy at Wiston.

 

They run 20 Red Devon suckler cows, rear 50 dairy cross calves and a small flock of sheep. As well as farming, James works for Breedr as a product manager.

 

You can follow them on Twitter @jpbwfarm.

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