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First generation farmer David Elgin has spent a lifetime building his successful farm business and on-farm diversifications, but his pedigree sheep flock has always remained at the heart of the farm. Katie Fallon finds out more.

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Having built a successful farm business over the last 60 years, it is hard to believe 81-year-old David Eglin is not from a farming background.

Growing up in Lincolnshire, it was only when his father sought employment on a local farm following his return from the second world war, that David’s passion for agriculture was realised. Fast forward a few years and after studying agriculture at the West of Scotland Agricultural college, David returned home in 1962, the same year he and his father purchased some land at Bramcote near Nuneaton in Leicestershire.

After securing 89 hectares (220 acres) on what was a former aerodrome used as an RAF base during the war, David renamed the site Bramcote Mains, marking the beginning of his farming journey.

Initially 200 sows were introduced to the old aerodrome and were kept outdoors on the grass runways and housed in the old ammunition stores.

With poor grassland and deficient soils, David began improving the soils and putting his college learnings into practice.

“I have since changed it into some very good land, but it has taken a lot of doing,” he explains.

“The land was short of lime and was likely to have been in set aside during the war period.”

After leaving the pig industry in 1970, the family purchased a handful of sheep starting with Welsh cross breeds, alongside Texel and Suffolk tups which they went onto run for the next 10 years. However, lambing  difficulties prompted a change in breed and in the late seventies David went onto start his own flock of pedigree Bleu du Maine sheep.

“As my aerodrome grass had significantly improved, I decided to look into pedigree sheep.”

Poll Dorsets

Poll Dorsets were also introduced to Bramcote Mains alongside his flock of Bleu du Maine’s and David spent many years as a committee member in the Dorset breed society. It was while involved in both breeds that
David began Signet performance recording his flock as he found great enjoyment in improving index figures, something which he remains passionate about today.

David’s true passion for sheep was discovered while on a trip to France with breeders from the Midlands Bleu du Maine club, when the Charmoise breed caught his eye. Upon returning home, David purchased two Charmoise ewes from Welshpool in 1997. This was followed by a tup and a further three ewes purchased from the Paris Show in 1998, marking the beginning of David’s Bramain flock.

Up until recent years, David has continued to purchase Charmoise tups from France, as well as enjoying many years judging the breed at the Paris Show.

Today, the flock comprises 300 pedigree Charmoise breeding ewes with the majority of stock, including over 100 tups, sold annually for breeding. Stock is sold both direct from farm and at breed society sales, and all animals are Signet performance recorded.

The flock is managed by stockman Ben Stew, and lambing usually begins February, with any surplus lambs not kept or sold for breeding butchered locally and sold direct to the consumer. This year’s lambing was later than usual due to tups David purchased from France, not arriving in the UK due to Brexit.

As the current president of the Charmoise sheep society, David believes the breed is suitable for all farm types across the UK, due to their low maintenance, easy lambing, and ability to cross well with many other breeds and improve carcase confirmation.

“I have built up the Charmoise into a good flock here at Bramcote Mains, but also a good sheep for anybody in the country to have.”

Complementing the sheep enterprise at Bramcote Main, David has also developed a successful farm diversification comprising a caravan storage business currently storing 900 caravans and motorhomes, a caravan site and fishing lakes. Keen for both the farm and the diversifications to work with nature, David has planted more than 4,000 trees during his 60 years at Bramcote mains.

Wildflower strips

Wildflower strips have also been incorporated into the caravan storage unit to improve biodiversity, which can also be grazed by the sheep at certain times of the year. David also has a number of beehives on site and
sells the honey to customers and caravaners. Additionally, the site was made self-sufficient in water in 2012, with a wind turbine and solar panels used to generate electricity for the site, with excess electricity sold to the grid.

From humble beginnings as a new entrant, David has successfully developed a diverse and profitable farm business, evident from his impressive Charmoise flock and farm diversifications. However, due to a change in family circumstances Bramcote Mains is in the process of being sold, and sadly the Bramain flock dispersal is to be held this summer.

While the farm sale concludes David’s farming journey, his achievements over the years have not gone unrecognised and David reflects on his success at last year’s British Farming Awards with great appreciation.

“We achieved what I have always been trying to achieve. After 60 years of farming to be recognised at the top is fantastic, it really was a great honour.”

Looking to the future, David is in discussions with a Scottish agricultural college in the hope he can invest some of the money from the farm sale and flock dispersal, to provide funding for future improvements of livestock for faming generations going forward.

“I would like to leave behind something in the Eglin name.”


  • 4,000 trees planted
  • Wildflower strips planted to improve biodiversity
  • Beehives located on the farm and storage unit
  • Self-sufficient in water after drilling an 80m borehole in 2012
  • Wind turbine and solar panels generate electricity for the site and surplus electricity is sold back to the grid


  • 89 hectares (220 acres) of land on what was a former aerodrome and RAF base
  • Flock of 300 pedigree Charmoise ewes
  • Most lambs sold for breeding stock, with more than 100 tups sold annually
  • Flock is Signet performance recorded and has been for 25 years
  • Currently storing 900 caravans and motorhomes in the caravan storage unit
  • Other diversifications include a caravan site, two fishing lakes, and gas sales

A word from the sponsor

As the most established and trusted leading Agri-Food Assurance Provider, Intertek SAI Global is especially delighted to sponsor the British Farming Awards’ Sheep Farmer of the Year. We fully support the sheep industry as more now than ever, farm assurance is an essential element of resilient marketing and innovation strategy


This award welcomes entries from farmers who are not afraid to embrace change to boost efficiencies within their business.

You will be making the most of the opportunities presented to you and recognise the importance of delivering quality production and management, you may be utilising technology, developing bloodlines, identifying new markets or finding ways to improve stockmanship.

Find out more about the category here.