Chipping farming family win top award

Tallking over the Laund Farm sheep dairy enterprise are farmers Simon and John Stott and Matthew Dugdale, managing director of Dugdale Nutrition.
Tallking over the Laund Farm sheep dairy enterprise are farmers Simon and John Stott and Matthew Dugdale, managing director of Dugdale Nutrition.

LOCAL father-and-son team John and Simon Stott, who have won a prestigious national Sheep Farmer of the Year competition organised by a top farming magazine, have been congratulated by Dugdale Nutrition managing director Matthew Dugdale.

The Stotts, who farm at Chipping, beat off competition from across the UK to take the Farmers’ Weekly award. It is sponsored by supermarket group Morrisons who said their business “symbolises all that is great about British sheep farming”.

Congratulations for the family team came from Dugdale Nutrition of Clitheroe, who have worked closely with the Stott family for more than 25 years. Earlier this year Simon joined Dugdale Nutrition’s sales manager, Peter Wormleighton, on a visit to dairy sheep enterprises in Spain. They looked at overall husbandry and milking sheep nutrition.

Matthew Dugdale said: “The team at Dugdales feel the award could not have gone to more deserving winners. They have worked hard to develop their business and have not been afraid to try new enterprises including the successful milking sheep flock. They are exactly the sort of people we need to take farming forward over coming years.”

Simon Stott commented: “Farming is a competitive business and I believe that taking part in competitions such as this is valuable in the feedback and advice you get as well as the chance of winning. They also help widen your network of contacts in the industry, which is always useful.

“The publicity generated by competitions is also an incentive encouraging the next generation to understand, and in some instances, become involved in farming themselves.”

John Stott added: “Farming is a long-term business and succession is an important part of that. Just as my own father encouraged me and gave me responsibility, I have tried to do this for Simon and, hopefully, in the future his own children will have the same opportunity if they want it.

“I think this is one reason why our business has worked so well and, just maybe, one of the factors that gave us the edge in the competition.”

John’s father, also John, helped develop the use of the Bluefaced Leicester breeding in Lancashire and of the Mule commercial ewe – a cross between the Bluefaced Leicester ram and the Swaledale ewe.

The family farm at Laund Farm, Chipping, where they run a 500-acre beef and sheep unit with 1,000 commercial ewes as well as 500-plus dairy sheep. Feeding is on a semi-TMR system with parlour-fed concentrate, and milk is sold through a seven member co-operative, Sheep Milk UK, to 11 different dairies.

The commercial sheep business involves running pedigree Blue Faced Leicester and commercial Swaledale flocks, using Blue Faced Leicester rams on Swaledale ewes and producing about 400 Mule ewe lambs for sale annually. The family also sell around 30 pedigree Bluefaced Leicester tups each year.

A new development is an educational and meeting centre on the farm catering for school and other visits. Simon’s wife, Rachel – an environmental health officer – is working towards CEVAS (Countryside Educational Visits Accreditation Scheme) to enable the farm to accept more school visits.