The benefits of taking and making opportunities were highlighted by speakers at an ‘Inspiring the next generation of sheep farmers’ conference held at Abbey Home Farm, Cirencester.
The event attracted more than 80 young people as speakers shared their experiences getting into the sheep sector, which included inheriting a family farm, share farming, rental agreements, shepherding and off-farm employment.
Andrew Foulds, a sheep farmer and store lamb finisher from Suffolk, said lack of capital would not stop people with enthusiasm and a willingness to work hard.
He told delegates he had built up to his current business of 2,000 ewes and several thousand store lambs bought-in annually (while owning only 40 acres) by not being frightened to ask to borrow capital and land.
“I started out grazing sugar beet tops,” Andrew said. “I couldn’t afford the sheep, let alone the electric fence.
“It may be frightening to go and knock on someone’s door and ask them, but very few people will put you off. Explain you’ve got access to a bit of land and a day job and even if the first person says no, the next one might not.”
Andrew continues to rent land and crops across Suffolk, Norfolk and Cambridge, and while acknowledging land is easier to come by in this arable heartland than in some areas, he says the same principles apply.
“Mind your Ps and Qs with the landlord, don’t get cross with the gamekeeper and always honour your business commitments,” he said.
“Pay your bills on time or be honest about cash flow and up front if you won’t have the money for weeks.
“Don’t be afraid to get a truck on hire purchase or rent it and use contractors so you don’t tie up capital in equipment.”