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Young Farmer Focus: Rachel Cooper - 'Every day is a new adventure on our clifftop farm'

Rachel Cooper, 19, farms an 80-hectare coastal beef and sheep farm working alongside her mum, dad and brother.

 

She is currently studying an agricultural degree at Harper Adams University and has ambitions of securing her own tenancy in the future.

The cliff top: I often get raised eyebrows when I say I farm on a headland surrounded on three sides by the Atlantic Ocean. Yes, it can be challenging but it is also very beautiful.

 

My family and I run a small National Trust farm in an Area of Outstanding National Beauty on the north Devon coast, where we graze 250 sheep and 55 suckler cows, out-wintering them on fodder beet and brassicas.

 

We farm in a traditional way, working as a team, living off the land and trying to consider the nature surrounding us as we go. I like to involve myself in every aspect of our business from lambing and calving to feeding, fencing, worming and planting next winter’s forage crops.

 

Like all farming systems it has its ups and downs, but I would not change my upbringing for the world.

 

From rescuing lambs from precarious cliff top spots before school to calving cows in the wind and rain past my bedtime, every day has offered a new adventure.


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Beef and sheep: I am currently in my second year studying agriculture at Harper Adams. My eyes have been opened to every cog in the wheel of UK farming, but still I find myself coming back to cows and sheep.

 

The beef and lamb industry is particularly troubled by Brexit and succeeding in it requires precision, determination and adaptability but, like many others, I am willing to take on the challenge. We must be progressive.

 

Sometimes this is with breeding, technology and mechanisation, other times it is simply being regenerative; looking after our soils and farming alongside our wildlife.

 

New Zealand: I know what you are thinking; here we go again, another Young Farmer went off to find herself in New Zealand. In the summer of 2017 I walked out of my last A-level exam and into another adventure.

 

I flew to New Zealand to work on a sheep and beef hill farm lambing 3,000 sheep in a typical outdoor NZ system and out-wintering 250 Hereford calves.

 

The skills I learned and the friendships I made are invaluable.

 

Before, I had only ever worked for my dad at home – not only was this trip a boost in self-confidence, but also a taste of working in the real world before starting university.

 

No two farming systems are run in the same way. For young people in the industry, utilising this diversity has to be the best way to learn.

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