James Wright is a first generation farmer having studying business at university and is on the 2015/16 intake of Tesco’s Future Farmer Foundation.
Festivities: It has been that nothing week between Christmas and New Year, which means I’ve spent the week away from the mud and instead been with friends and family.
Sheep: It has been a great year with the number of ewes growing from 150 to 460 and we’ve picked up some additional ground from the Spring which means we might make our target of lambing 1,000 in 2017.
This year we’ll have 250 New Zealand Romneys and 160 Texel crosses with the aim to retain and buy in as many Romney ewes as land and finances will allow in the autumn.
Breeding: Scanning commences in a couple of weeks and it will be interesting to see the effect of rotational grazing versus set stocking grazing on our different sites during tupping and if this has affected the numbers.
There is no doubt that those who were rotationally grazed are now easier to handle and have noticeably better body condition. Hopefully this will be reflected in scanning percentage.
Tesco group: This year I joined the 2015-16 intake of the Tesco Future Farming Foundation, it’s a great opportunity for established farmers and new entrants alike. It’s been fantastic to rub shoulders with innovative farmers who are looking to make their mark in the industry.
On Christmas Day I did our daily stock check which involves a 110-mile round trip to visit our different rented sites. Whilst this is because the majority of our sheep are out on winter tack it does just show that as a first generation farmer in the most densely populated part of the country you take land where you can get it.
Tenancy: Next year I hope we can condense our holding by gaining tenancy on a local farm.
While they do not come up frequently, when they do there is always plenty of demand. According to the pub rumour mill, one I went for last year went for twice what we bid for it. Hopefully 2016 will mean we are slightly more on the mark.
Like many farmers, we will be hoping to see an upswing in farm gate prices so roll on 2016, lets see what you’ve got in store.
James Wright farms New Zealand Romneys on 60 hectares (150 acres) of rented grass on various agreements in West Sussex.