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Young Farmer Focus: George Thompson, Burton-on-Trent, Staffordshire

George Thompson, 21, is a new entrant farmer with a flock of 400 commercial ewes and rearing 50 continental youngstock. He farms at Anslow, Burton-On-Trent, Staffordshire.

New: This time six years ago I was sneaking home my first few cade lambs, much to my mother’s disgust.

 

Who would have thought I would now be setting up lambing sheds on my own farm, ready to bring 400 ewes in for lambing.

 

How times have changed. I do not know who is more excited for lambing, my mum or me.

 

Ewes: As well as the routine jobs of scraping up, feeding youngstock and in-calf heifers I have on bed and breakfast from a local dairy farm, I have also been bringing home some of the ewes from winter keep ready for vaccinating, foot-bathing, and housing.

 

After scanning last month, I split the ewes into lambing groups for singles, twins and triplets, housing the triplets first and leaving the other groups to graze.

 

The singles and twin groups will tidy the fields up round the farm ready for applying slurry when it is dry enough.

I took my last load of fat lambs to Leek this week, with trade being much better than expected.

 

Some of my lambs have been grazing on turnips which I grew as a break crop before reseeding. I am trying to grow more clover to reduce the amount of fertiliser and be more sustainable.

 

I have finished most of them inside on red clover silage which I made from excess grass from their earlier-season grazing.

 

I found shearing, housing and feeding lambs silage has allowed me to make more profit than if I would have had to feed them concentrates outdoors.

 

Tenant: There has also been plenty to do these past months after recently taking on my first tenancy.

 

I have had a local contractor fencing tracks and hanging gates so I can split and graze my fields this spring, making the most of the grass.

 

I have also been buying Aberdeen–Angus, Hereford and British Blue calves from the local dairy farms I relief milk on and have now got more than 50, which has kept me busy.

 

I plan to keep them until about 16 months old and sell them as stores.

 

Since recently becoming farm assured it has opened up a lot more routes for marketing my animals.

 

Young farmer: But being a young farmer I have found it is often difficult to get your hands on good quality land in big blocks and close to my farm before the big farms get their hands on it.

 

It is also hard on busy days where you are wishing you had an extra pair of hands, but cannot afford somebody to come help.

 

Not only this, but having the money to pay rent and other bills is a challenge.

 

I have overcome this by increasing my cashflow from relief milking, doing holiday cover and selling excess forage.

 

I was never encouraged into farming by my family as they are well aware of the challenges British agriculture faces, however with the right mindset and determination, I believe you can do anything you put your mind to.

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