My family own 11-and-a-half acres of land and I run a flock of 51 commercial breeding sheep, predominantly homebred Texel X Mule ewes, for which I rent additional land nearby.
As well as being a Future Farmer of Yorkshire, I have been a member of Tadcaster and Wetherby Young Farmers Club since October 2002 and regularly attend all Yorkshire, Northern Area and National YFC Council meetings.
I started working at Isaac Poad in June last year with no previous experience in the sector. I was given a customer base of around 50 farmers and have built that up over the last nine months to around 150.
We maintain a traditional approach to grain buying, building strong relationships with all our farmers by chatting over the farm gate, which I think is the key to being successful at what we do.
This year has seen extreme market volatility, with some peak prices only lasting a few hours, and therefore it is also very important for us to listen to our customers to help them achieve their expectations on grain prices.
Market volatility is certainly the single biggest challenge we face in our sector with global weather conditions and worldwide political situations dictating the UK’s farm gate prices.
Livestock prices are also subject to peaks and troughs and with narrow margins it’s important to keep input costs as low as possible, therefore I let my lambs grow naturally on milk and grass. I sell them between July and October, alternating between selling my 10 biggest lambs as fat and my 10 smallest as stores. I find that smaller lambs are more desirable to store buyers earlier in the year when the weather is warm and there is still plenty of goodness in the grass.
In an industry that revolves around the weather, I think it is very important to look closely at what you have and utilise it to the best of your ability, although this can be difficult when some decisions are out of your control due to government legislation.
Every year new rules and regulations seem to come into force making an already challenging occupation even harder still and not only does it cause headaches for existing farmers it also creates huge barriers for new entrants to the industry.
My advice to any young person just starting out is to work hard and to stick with it; if you want it badly enough you will make it happen.
If things aren’t going right, take a step back and look at what you are doing and be willing to make changes to your initial plans.
Make as many friends as possible as you will need help and advice along the way but most of all enjoy what you are doing.
Future Farmers of Yorkshire was launched in November 2010 and is supported by the Yorkshire Agricultural Society. It brings together younger farmers, vets and industry supporters.