Why John would be an effective mentor
- Originally from Birmingham, John came to a 68 acre family-owned farm in Montgomeryshire after finishing college in 1984.. At the time, there were about 23 cows (only 10 calving) and 200 ewes (lambing at 90%). Since that time John has steadily built up stock numbers, focusing primarily on animal health and productivity.
- John individually records all the sheep and cattle in order to monitor performance and monitor animal productivity. He finds that picking up even small bits of information can make a big change to the efficiency of the farm. He also uses EID and drenches the lambs according to their daily liveweight gain.
- John addresses trace element deficiency by bolusing the stock. He feels it is important to try different things , always monitoring results and learning from them.
- John visited New Zealand in 1998 on a Welsh Sheep Strategy scholarship and was impressed with the monitor farm scheme. On his return he was part of a group who established a monitor farm system on three farms for three years. On John and Sarah’s farm this involved a 30-strong group of farmers, bank managers, auctioneers, grassland specialists and meat procurement officers. He says the experience of evaluating business performance, and identifying the potential of the farm and the farmer’s aspirations have helped him become more receptive to different ways of working and sharing information
- John is currently part of an EIP project looking at improving grassland utilisation by implementing rotational grazing and increasing quantities of Timothy in upland leys.
- Following a Farming Connect Management Exchange visit to Finland in 2018 looking at improving grassland efficiency, white clover, timothy and plantain have now been planted on one of the hill blocks along with perennial rye grass. A couple of blocks of multi species leys have recently been added.
- John is an effective communicator, who listens and enjoys meeting people and learning about them and from them.
Current farm business
- John farms in partnership with his wife, Sarah
- The farm extends to 284 acres, with 275 acres owned and 9 acres rented
- Closed suckler herd of around 90 pedigree and crossbred Limousin cows and replacement heifers, calving at two years old
- Closed flock of 730 mainly Beulah ewes and replacement ewe lambs. Selling breeding sheep, finished lambs and rams.
- Sell boxed beef and lamb boxes direct to consumers.
- Small acreage of woodland, which John plans to extend to cover more challenging side-land through planting native broadleaf species including flowering cherry, damson etc., to encourage more pollinators and improve biodiversity.
- Investment in renewable energy with solar panels on the sheep shed roof
- Installing new solar powered water system on one of the hill blocks to assist with rotational grazing.
Qualifications/ achievements/ experience
- OND Welsh Agricultural College, Aberystwyth 1981-1984
- Member of Cefn Coch and District (ATB) Training Group
- Nuffield Scholarship 2006
- British Farming Awards Sheep Innovator of the Year Runner-up 2016
- Farming Connect Management Exchange visits to Finland, Ireland and UK farms looking at improving grassland utilisation and beef and lamb carcase classification 2018-2019
- Sarah and John were jointly awarded Farmers Weekly Sheep Farmers of the Year 2018
TOP TIPS FOR BUSINESS SUCCESS
“Share your problems, there are always people who have faced similar challenges, tackled similar problems and we all learn through experience.”
“When things in life or business seem bad, there are always more opportunities.”
“Be open with each other, and also your bank manager, accountant and vet as they are a really important part of your business.”
“Lots of things go wrong, but some things go right and you need to make the most of what goes right.”
“An ounce of common sense is worth a ton of brains!”