2021 winners follow up: Tom Addison, New Entrant Award: Against the Odds

It was Tom Addison’s openness to opportunity and positive approach to innovation which impressed the judges and helped secure him the win of last year’s New Entrant Award: Against the Odds.

Originally striving to be a farrier, a future in agriculture was not the first career path Tom Addison had in mind as a child. But it was while spending time with the local farrier when the question of farming was posed to him.
He says: “I had not thought of agriculture as a career until then, but I started to help out with beef cattle on a local farm where my mum rode horses and it went from there.” Mr Addison went on to study agriculture at Moulton College, Northampton, where he worked on the college dairy farm and discovered a love for working with cattle. Following college, Mr Addison went self-employed, relief milking and lambing to gain as much experience as possible.
Inspired by his friends who were running sheep on rented land, Mr Addison started his flock in 2013 with a handful of pet lambs and some locally rented land. He says: “An advantage of being a new entrant means you get the freedom to make your own path, with no family ties or constraints.” Today, Mr Addison is lambing 150 Texel cross ewes across 40 hectares (99 acres) of rented land, selling fat lambs through the live ring and deadweight, with about 100 lambs a year sold through his lamb box business, Addison’s Lamb.


He says: “I thought the best way to get into farming was to start off with sheep and progress onto cattle. I have always wanted to have my own business and to work for myself, so sheep seemed to be the cheapest and easiest option at the time.” Keen to expand, Mr Addison says he will be increasing sheep numbers in the coming years, with the aim to reach 500 head as quickly as possible. He is also looking to introduce both Aberfield and Llynn cross-breeds.
“We will breed our own replacements, as well as buying some in to increase our numbers, with the aim of eventually being a closed flock. “A good number for me to manage on my own would be 500, as currently I have land all over which means I am sometimes travelling up to 20 miles between land at lambing time. More than 500 would be a large amount of work for just myself.” To increase numbers, Mr Addison is also in the initial stages of developing joint ventures with neighbouring farms buying store lambs for finishing. He says: “I am trying to work with local arable farmers to encourage more regenerative practices, by using cover crops and stubble turnips for grazing.” Sheep aside, Mr Addison previously reared 200-300 dairy cross calves annually, which he sold privately and through farm-to-farm schemes at four months of age. However, due to feed and milk powder costs this year, Mr Addison says: “Buyers are not wanting to pay more for the calves and the price offered has taken the margin out of it.” A small number of calves from the previous batch are currently being finished on a local finishing unit as part of a bed and breakfast system. Mr Addison says in light of increased costs he is looking at the possibility of grazing calves and transferring them onto a finishing unit as a future addition to his enterprise. To enhance his industry knowledge, Mr Addison was accepted onto the Tesco Future Farmers Foundation in 2019, which gave him invaluable exposure to the business’ supply chain and manufacturing sites. He says: “It was a fantastic experience and a great opportunity.” Reflecting on his success at the British Farming Awards, Mr Addison says: “It was phenomenal to win the award as I did not think I had a chance to win with the calibre of people and businesses there.”


Mr Addison hopes winning the award will improve his chances of securing a tenancy in the future. He says: “I hope it will show people that what I do has been noticed and will set me apart from other candidates.” Looking forward, increasing sheep numbers while building a business which is low input and high output are Mr Addison’s goals for the future. He says: “I am trying to build a sustainable business without too many input costs, while improving grazing quality and grass management.”