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Young Farmer Focus: Elle Slade - ‘Beef cattle have always been a massive passion'

Elle Slade, 19, lives in Devon on a 202-hectare beef and poultry farm. She is currently in her final year of a three-year agricultural course at Hartpury College in Gloucester.

Family: I have grown up in a family which is extremely passionate about farming and completely live and breathe it, and this is where my love for farming and stock has come from.

 

From an early age, my dad has always had me involved on the farm, whether it be driving tractors, working with cattle, working with the poultry, or office work.

 

My dad took the farm on from the early age of 20 after his dad had a heart attack.

 

At this point it was a small family run dairy farm. In 2004 my dad decided to pull out of dairy - selling the whole herd. We then transitioned towards beef and poultry.

 

My parents decided to go into laying chickens because at the time the markets and returns were very good. We are now currently housing 15,500 laying hens.

 

My dad has always had turkeys and started off with a small number of 10 when he was 18. We are now traditionally preparing 8,500 turkeys for Christmas which are sold nationwide through butchers and private sales.

 

Beef cattle has always been a massive passion for my dad and over the years it has rubbed off on me.

 

We are running a mixed native and continental suckler herd of 100 cows.

 

The suckler cows are a massive passion of dad’s and myself. We run a Devon bull but we also AI around 80 per cent of the cows.

 

We buy and rear around 140 commercial calves from market every summer and winter which then we rear up to store cattle and then sell them privately or through Exeter cattle market.

 

We are kept busy throughout the year, our busiest time being November through to April due to Christmas and calving.


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Ag industry: Being a 19-year-old girl who is pursuing an education and career in agriculture having grown up on a farm and not known anything else - the agricultural industry is turning into a very difficult place.

 

And, to be honest, looking at the way farming is at the moment, it is scary to see!

 

I have seen social media and people create such a bad perception of the industry purely through being fed lies. People don’t realise that the agricultural industry is one of the most hard working, strong, kind and loveable industries around.

 

Instead it is made out to be an industry that purely kills not only animals, but now apparently the planet. Figures and science show that is not the case.

 

I truly believe that, as a strong sector, we can change this, through educating people and showing them the truth.

 

Showing them that we do care for our animals to such a high standard. In fact, farmers put their animals before themselves. For many farmers their livestock and their farm is their whole life. They live and breath farming.

 

What other industry works all the hours around the clock in order for others to have food when they come home from work?

 


Aspirations: Once I finish at Hartpury I am planning on going out to New Zealand to broaden my education.

 

I have a younger brother who in currently studying a land-based technology course at Hartpury.

 

My plans are to take on the family farm going into partnership with my brother as he wants to build an engineering business.

 

I also want to start breeding and selling potential show cattle - whether it be commercial or pedigree as well as expanding the poultry side of the farm.

 

Working with cattle, breeding and genetics is a massive passion of mine and something I’m immensely interested in.

 

I am also looking to diversify into a none agricultural linked business as I feel that it is going to be hard for a family-run businesses, such as ours, to stay in the industry - especially with such an unpredictable future.

 

As much as farming is a lifestyle and I wouldn’t wish to do anything else, at the end of the day it is also a business and it does need to provide for our family as with every family owned business does.

 

This is why the option of diversification is now becoming extremely popular among us farmers. It almost offers our much loved farms and family businesses a safety net and some sort of reassurance.

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