FINALIST FOR SHEEP INNOVATOR
OF THE YEAR
Sponsored by: Shearwell Data
Pitt Hall Farm, Kingsclere Estates, Hampshire
THE 1000 hectare Kingsclere Estate has been in Tim May’s family for more than 120 years and he has managed the farming operation since 2011. Six years ago Tim decided to make the change from all arable to a mixed system with the aim of improving soil quality and ultimately productivity, in addition to undergoing organic conversion.
Herbal leys were sown to improve soil structure and fertility and the land was split into eight 120ha blocks. A flock of 1800 ewes, North Country Mules and Exlana wool shredding breeds, was bought, with the aim of running a low maintenance outdoor flock which would work in harmony with the arable rotations. These provide the flock with post-harvest grazing, break crop grazing and new grass pastures after lambing.
Key investments have been 65km of electric fencing, 15km of water lines, an EID weighing system, construction of a handling yard to hold 3-4000 ewes plus lambs and 550ha of herbal leys.
The aim is to wean 1.4-1.5 lambs per ewe with as little labour and input as possible. Wool-shredding breeds contribute significantly to this, reducing the amount of shearing needed and fly strike problems. The EID system allows close monitoring of both ewes and lambs and enables any underperforming ewes to be culled.
Tim is a member of the Co-op’s British Lamb Group which is committed to supplying 100 per cent British lamb all year round. Lambing at Kingsclere
takes place in May with lambs weaned in September, moved to new leys in October and finished on stubble turnips which are part of the arable rotation. They are then sold deadweight to Dunbia, for the Co-op, taking advantage of ‘out of season’ prices.
The success of the sheep enterprise has allowed the arable enterprise to become more profitable, as using the sheep as a source of soil structure improvement, organic matter and weed deterrent reduces arable input costs, and helps with the conversion to organic status.