Mathew and David Roberts

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The aim for father and son, David and Matthew Roberts, is to ensure their business remains sustainable in the long term. They run a flock of 1,400 Texel cross Mules which all go to a Texel ram, lambing from the end of February to mid-March. All lambs are creep fed with 50 per cent sold by the end of July.

The Roberts are focused on reducing costs by growing better grasses along with red clover leys to produce better quality silage. This has involved extensive soil testing and reseeding by direct drilling and the introduction of herbal leys has also helped to overcome drought problems.

They now grow 32ha (79 acres) of red clover, comprising of three different mixtures. These are a five to six year cut and graze mix, incorporating 3.7kg/ ha (1.5kg/acre) of persistent red clover, a six-year long term mix with white clover and 1.7kg/ha (0.7kg/acre) of red clover for harvesting and grazing and a dedicated two to three-year cutting ley incorporating 7.4kg/ha (3kg/acre) of red clover with hybrid and perennial ryegrass.


Twenty hectares (49.9acres) of the first cut preserved as clamp silage and the remainder as big bales and all second cut is baled.

It is fed to ewes during the lambing season ranging in quantity from 3.5-6.5kg a day depending on quality, but limited to prevent ewes getting too fat.

This has massively reduced the number of weeks that ewes receive supplementary feed. Twin bearing ewes are now fed supplementary feed of sugar beet pellets and protected rape for three weeks before lambing, instead of seven weeks on the previous system, and ewes with singles are fed for just one week when they are housing pre-lambing.

Lambs graze the red clover silage aftermaths after two cuts have been taken enabling them to be finished without additional feed related costs.

Since establishing red clover on the farm, the Roberts have been able to cut their fertiliser costs and now only use some nitrogen for establishment.

Having better grasses and growing other crops such as fodder beet has also reduced days on-farm for lambs.

What the Judges said

Father and son, David and Matthew, have analysed their business and clearly identified and taken steps to address the changes needed to futureproof their business in times of uncertainty.