Month: November 2015

Farming community is called upon to help with Syrian refugee crisis

Farming community is called upon to help with Syrian refugee crisis


Millions of Syrian refugees have been displaced from their homes due to conflict, living in temporary camps with little shelter from the bitter winter which is fast approaching, however, the British farming community can help.

Many within the British rural community are starting to prepare for their own winter, buying warm new coats and burying the old ones to the back of workshops and wardrobes. However, a new project, Country Coats to Syria (CCtS), is calling upon those in the rural community to donate any old or unused coats to their cause.

CCtS are planning to organise collection points around the country over the Christmas period where people can deliver coats. These will then be passed on to established charity Syria Relief, where they will be shipped to Syria and the surrounding areas.

Two pilot schemes are being organised at Sedgemoor Auction Centre on the 21 November, and at The East of England Smithfield Festival, one of the country’s premier livestock shows, at the East of England Showground on the 26 and 27 November 2015.

Many in the rural community would be lost without their homes, which not only provide comfort and safety, but also their livelihood. Knowing the great loss the Syrian refugees have gone through, please donate any unwanted or under-used coats.

To find out where your nearest collection point is please visit:

For more information please contact:

CCtS Sedgemoor: Richard Walton – 07970 029825


CCtS Smithfield: George Bowyer – 07767 318326


Smithfield Festival: William Haire –


Syria Relief: Benjamin Davies – 0161 860 0163

Start up to show-winners in five years

Start up to show-winners in five years


Ivanhoe Livestock is a name known to many in the sheep industry, both for their show ring successes and for achieving high prices in local markets in the North of England.

However, the progress this flock has made in a very short time has to be admired. Andrew and James Bailey, coming together as a father and son team, from North Yorkshire, have, in fact, only been farming fully in their own right for five years. Yet in that very short time they have won national prizes in both pedigree and commercial show rings; and they command high prices for their pedigree and commercial crossbred breeding stock.

The Ivanhoe prefix is taken from the name of the family’s previous house at Leyburn. 5 years ago, as a family Andrew, Lyn, Joanne and James, secured the tenancy at Wyvill Grange, near Bedale and this is where they all have built up the sheep enterprise to what it is today.

Wyvill Grange totals 150 acres of grassland which is managed mostly on five-year ley rotations. The farm sits at a varied 200-700 feet above sea-level and the soil is free-draining, which has proved to be very compatible with efficient sheep production. Wyvill Grange also supports a small herd of 10 suckler cows and over winters  around 80 cattle for other farmers to gain full use of the shed space.

Expansion has been impressive. The family arrived at the farm with only 45 ewes to there name which were kept on small fields of rented land around Leyburn. They have now increased to a total of around 500 ewes. These consist of purebred Blue Texels, Beltex and Dutch Texels and crossbred females.

“Our aim is to produce quality stock that suit both the breeding market and the commercial market,” explains James. “All three breeds have their own merits for achieving this,” says James. “Personally, I favour the Beltex, which I believe is ideal for producing high quality lambs, with excellent carcases.”

Andrew differs in his preference, choosing the Blue Texel as his favourite, “I feel the Blue Texel adds size without sacrificing shape. It is finer-boned, compared with the ordinary white Texel and that makes it easier to lamb.” says Andrew. The Dutch Texels were introduced two years ago, to bring in fresh bloodlines, for use mainly on the hoggs to produce quality butchers lambs.”

Despite the difference in opinion on breeds, the Baileys are in total agreement when it comes to the benefits of exhibiting their animals at shows and events around the UK. “Shows give us an unique opportunity to display our end product,” explains James. “It’s where we can show our customers the quality of our stock.”

They also happen to thoroughly enjoy the process of showing animals and take immense pride in their sheep. They attend as many as time allows, and find the rewards have been significant for their business.

“It is very much a marketing tool for our business,” says Andrew. “A great advertising campaign for our flock, and every success adds value to our animals and our flock, and gives us a boost in confidence that we are doing something right.

A significant win in last year’s winter show season was at the East of England Smithfield Festival, when they were awarded overall champion in the carcase competition. They won with a Beltex cross Blue Texel wether lamb, which graded at E3L and killed out at 55%.

“We were thrilled with the result. It is always encouraging when the hard work begins to pay off,” he adds.

“Because of the investment each show demands in both time and money, we try to enter as many classes as possible,” James explains. “Typically we will take around 20 animals to each event  and enter approximately 10-12 classes.”

However, what should not be underestimated is the effort put in to get these animals to the standard required for show ring success.  An effective breeding policy, good nutrition, lambing time, strict health and welfare all play a role in making sure the animals are ready for the final preparations before the show ring.

“We are always focussed on what the customer wants. Butchers want a high meat to bone ratio,” explains James. “The combination of the three breeds we use produce this. It also produces quality animals for breeding stock and we currently sell around 30 breeding tups a year, mainly for commercial use.

“This year we lambed 100 commercial ewes in January. Following this, 80 Pedigree ewes and crossbreds lambed at the end of February. This was specifically to produce breeding tups and replacement gimmers. The remaining ewes and 100-120 hoggs are then lambed at the end of April. This is the general pattern we want to follow, however, we are looking to increase numbers to expand and gain the most out of the tenancy,” he adds.

“We find this pattern spreads the lambing workload, and allows us to manage the flock to the best of our ability,” he says. “It also allows us to sell lambs at Easter, commanding a higher price and utilise the grassland most effectively in the spring for the majority of the flock.

All the sheep are lambed indoors on loose straw, and moved into individual pens when lambed. The farm has various buildings, old and new, and all are used at peak time for lambing. Hygiene is a major factor in ensuring healthy animals, and lime is used extensively to minimise disease.

Weather dependant, most ewes and lambs are moved outside after a few days, after the Baileys have carried out necessary management systems including EID tagging and recording, docking, castration, treatment for orf and vitamin dose. Weighing of the early lambs is carried out from around eight weeks, to allow them to plan the optimum time for selling and weaning. Creep feed is introduced at this time to aid growth rate and meat development and then weaning is usually between 10 and 12 weeks old. “We have to be flexible on this, as grass growth varies year on year, and factors such as ewe condition and lamb growth have to be considered,” explains James.

“We sell the finished lambs at local markets from the end of March through to July, then start again in the autumn with us selecting lambs off grass if possible to help minimise production costs” adds James. “Obviously we hold some back for the winter shows, but we like them all to be sold by the end of the year, in preparation for lambing again in January. It works well for us, and we have kept more gimmer lambs back this year to allow for more expansion.”

One of the winter shows on our calendar is the 2015 East of England Smithfield, which is on the 26 to 27 November in Peterborough. “Smithfield is special,” says James. “It offers a certain prestige, it really is the best of the best. It also offers a chance to attend workshops and presentations, to learn the latest products and innovations in the sheep industry. It’s an exciting event and we are now making the final selections in preparation for the show. At this moment in time we wil be taking 12 pairs, of which most are Beltex and Blue Texel origins, alongside some extra breeds such as the Cheviot.

With such a rapid success in the show ring and at livestock markets around the UK,  combined with their positive attitude and work ethic, the Baileys are one to watch in the future of the sheep breeding industry, as a family that are focused on what the market demands and know how to achieve it.


Hi-Tech focus for East of England Smithfield Festival 2015  

Hi-Tech focus for East of England Smithfield Festival 2015  


The focus for this year’s East of England Smithfield Festival on the 26 and 27 November in Peterborough, is new technology and leading the way will be the inaugural live broadcast of the judging.

“This is such an exciting development for the show,” explains William Haire, East of England Smithfield Festival director. “Our new partnership with Melton Mowbray market has allowed us to introduce this new technology and allow anyone who is unable to attend, to still be involved.

“By simply going to the Melton Mowbray market website, and following the link anyone can watch the judging classes live from the show,” explains Mr Haire. “This makes the event, much more inclusive to all.”

Continuing this hi-tech theme, is the new StockTech area which aims to highlight new precision technology and innovative techniques on offer to the livestock sector.

“As an industry, it is important that we are open and receptive to new and improved methods of production, allowing us to increase efficiencies and protect the sustainability of our businesses,” explains Mr Haire.

Seminars will also be available to attendees, giving food for thought on a wide range of issues including red meat marketing, introducing beef and sheep enterprises to an arable business and contract-rearing options.  A help-desk area, with experts in a number of legislative and advisory capacities will also be on hand to answer individual enquiries.

“The show has evolved significantly this year, and I am thrilled with the support and encouragement we have received in developing the event,” says Mr Haire. “Entries are now closed, and I am delighted to report that we have many highly respected exhibitors from England, Wales and Scotland attending the event. We have also seen a substantial increase in trade stand exhibitors which reflects the confidence the industry has in the East of England Smithfield Festival and its credibility in the livestock sector.

“There will be something for everyone,” he concludes. “The new facilities here at the East of England Showground, together with the new technology and the quality of the exhibitors, will make for a truly exciting and  informative event.”

Please visit for further details on the live broadcast for the East of England Smithfield Festival.

The Lincolnshire Technical Symposium- Soils & Cropping Systems

The Lincolnshire Technical Symposium- Soils & Cropping Systems

As a member of Innovation for Agriculture, we are pleased to let our members know that they can avail of discounted attendance at this exciting symposium taking place on the 19th of November at Lincoln Showground. Faced with a “yield plateau” and an uncontrollable blackgrass burden, farmers are seeking new ways to address their problems and rise to the challenge of improving their yields. It is now well recognised that soil organic matter has declined over recent decades and that drainage has been neglected on many farms for over a generation.

This symposium brings together speakers with expertise in soil organic matter, drainage and the use of cover crops within new cropping systems to address the challenges we face.

Speakers include:

David Gardner, of Innovation for Agriculture on Soil Biology

Rob Burtonshaw, of Farm Services Ltd, on developments in drainage

Jake Freestone, of Overbury Farms, on the merits of alternative cover and catch crops

Mark Hemmant, of Agrovista, on cover crops and cultivation systems to control blackgrass

David Miller, of Wheatsheaf Farming, on maximising the use of cover crops to improve soil fertility.

This event is being run in partnership by Innovation for Agriculture and Lincolnshire Agricultural Society.

Booking information can be found here

In the future we will be working more closely with IFA and hope to bring some events to our Showground here in Peterborough.

Upcoming Events

all-day Kids Country- Food & Farming Day @ East of England Showground
Kids Country- Food & Farming Day @ East of England Showground
Jun 29 all-day
Kids Country- Food & Farming Day @ East of England Showground
The Kids Country Food and Farming day brings around 7000 school children onto the site to learn about where their food comes from and how it is made. If you would like to get involved, …

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all-day Just Dogs Live @ East of England Showground
Just Dogs Live @ East of England Showground
Jul 6 – Jul 8 all-day
Just Dogs Live @ East of England Showground
Members are entitled to Free entry to this event upon presentation of a valid membership card at the entrance. For more information about Just Dogs Live- Incorporating the Championship Dog Show, please visit the dedicated …

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