James Herrick

James farms 450 acres of grassland and arable crops in partnership with his parents in Leicestershire. James’ real passion is his 140 spring calving suckler cow herd ran on a rotational grazing system, with all young stock finished as either young bulls or heifers. James is a firm believer in a breeding functional, efficient and profitable cattle that excel on a simple low input system. You may also recognise James from the ‘Baldy’s Farm’ YouTube channel where he showcases the day to day running of his farm and his cattle management system

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John Aynsley

PRODUCING commercial cattle that are sustainable and efficient is the aim for farm manager John Aynsley, who heads up Skelton Farming. A breeder unit for the Stabiliser cattle company, the mixed farming estate is situated on the edge of the North York Moors, comprising 1,416 hectares (3,500 acres), of which 650ha (1,600 acres) are arable growing arable crops.

In 2021, John dramatically changed their breeding policy from fattening cattle to breeding the cattle themselves with their suckler herd. He says: “Stabiliser bulls were bought to put over the mixed cross-type cows to improve performance and profitability. “This has increased the herd’s calving ease and docility, producing a milky and maternal cow that utilises grass well.” John now records a lot of data across the whole herd, not just the pure-bred animals, implementing DNA and genotype testing on all calves to ensure he captures the best genetics produced. “We also artificially inseminate about 200 of the younger cows each year with new bloodlines so we can breed our own bulls and remain a closed herd.”

All the data is recorded with the Agricultural Business Research Institute which gives him the estimated breeding values as well as a maternal and finishing index for each animal, which follows through into a profit index. Running 500 Stabiliser cows and in-calf heifers, John operates a spring calving system. All stock are paddock-grazed in summer to achieve maximum efficiency with the minimum amount of nitrogen being used during spring and summer. In winter, the herd is housed inside to reduce the impact on wet soils, which John is working to sustain. The arable side is based on a five year rotation of winter barley, oilseed rape, winter wheat, winter beans and winter wheat. The farm uses min-till and direct drilling crops and soil improvement is said to be key to both arable and livestock sides of the farm.

Heading up a workforce including a herdsman, shepherd and farm workers, John pays close attention to career development, actively encouraging involvement in courses and industry groups.

Ben Harman

Ben is a 4th generation farmer and third generation Charolais breeder, currently farming 274ha over three sites on top of the Chiltern Hills in Buckinghamshire. He currently around 100 head of mostly pedigree Charolais with some Charolais Wagyu cross cattle for his beef enterprise ‘Chagyu’. The arable land is farmed under a share farming agreement with a local contractor. Ben farms with the help of his amazing 82 year old father and with part time help from a keen local young farmer. Ben is a former Chair of the British Charolais Society, which was founded by his Grandfather and others in 1962, and has enjoyed roles with Charolais and Charbray International. He is currently chair of the British Cattle Breeders Club, sits on the board of CHeCS the Cattle Health Certification Scheme and is a board member of the National Beef Association. He is an avid traveller, rugby supporter, cook and reader, particularly of cosmology, particle physics and novels. In the past he enjoyed working briefly for the Holstein Friesian Society as an editorial assistant and for AG-World Europe assisting in the export of breeding pigs to the far east. With a friend Ben also ran an enterprise ‘Pinballers Anonymous’, they rapidly became the largest reseller of Pinball machines in the UK, hosted many events and championships culminating the International Flipper Pinball Association (IFPA) World Championships which was held on the farm (the only occasion it had left Las Vegas).

Katie Fallon

Katie joined the Farmers Guardian as livestock specialist in January 2022, where her role sees her reporting on all the latest livestock news from shows, sales, industry events and farm features.

Before joining FG, Katie graduated from Harper Adams University in 2020 and went onto work for Morrisons in a producer support role, working with their free-range egg suppliers.

When not helping on the family farm in Teesdale, Katie enjoys walks with her beloved Labrador, listening to Shania Twain and is partial to an expresso martini or two.