Robert Cross, Grappenhall
- Tell us a little bit about your business
I am in partnership with my Dad, John. We farm in Grappenhall and grow a variety of cereal crops- wheat, oats, barley, peas, beans and OSR. We have been at the farm since 1950 when my Grandfather moved from under his family company umbrella in the year he got married. Most of the land we farm is in and around Grappenhall, we also own and farm land in Plumley. In 2014 I did my BASIS qualification and subsequently do all the agronomy on the farm.
- Tell us about the classes you enter and any successes you have had.
We tend to enter all the cereal classes and have in the past entered the whole farm. In 2014 we won the Supreme Farm Championship and held a farm walk. Cereal classes- we tend to have reasonable successes but for me its more about the competitive spirit. Last year, for the first time I entered Grassland where I came third-which some might regard as beginners luck! In 2012 I was fortunate enough to be awarded the Oxford Farming Conference Award and enjoyed attending the Conference very much.
- How long have you been entering the competition and what made you enter initially?
We have been entering for a good number of years now. My Dad was at his Cousins wedding and ended up talking to Richard Fitton, who happened to be stewarding the Winter Oats class that year. Richard skilfully persuaded him to enter his winter oats, this was in 2006. We’ve been entering ever since. Currently we are having a breather with regard to the whole farm, until we have something fresh and new to demonstrate to the judges.
- What impact has winning had on your business?
It has improved the profile of our business and it was one of the factors that encouraged me to become an AHDB Monitor Farmer as well as appearing in Agricultural press.
- What do you aim to achieve in the future within your business and/or the competition
Within the business our aim is to have a more diverse risk profile across the business. We are also looking to automate the business more so that I can continue on my own when my Dad retires.
- Where do you display your shields?
In the kitchen on the wall. The supreme farm plaque is on display on the court yard.
- What would you say to anyone who is thinking of entering for the first time?
Do it as you never know where it might take you.
Mick, Margaret and Sarah Heath Heaton House Farm
Tell us a little bit about your business - We farm 180 acres of beef, sheep and some cereals around 800ft above sea level rising to over 900 on challenging land. Most of our buildings have been developed into a wedding venue and 15 bedrooms employing around 60 staff. A catering company has recently been established to provide the hospitality service which use home produced organically grown fruit and vegetables. We also have an activity centre on site which is run by an external company.
Tell us about the classes you enter and any successes you have had - Recently, field of Spring Barley (not placed but complimented, opportunity to learn) Diversification, second place two years ago, first place last year, Conservation, first place.
How long have you been entering the competition and what made you enter initially? - Been entering for around 7 years but not every year, always see the competition as a benchmark combined with the opportunity to learn more from the judges.
What impact has winning had on your business? - Because of COVID-19, little change to the business as the wedding venue has been closed so no benefit yet from marketing or publicity etc. We haven’t even managed to engage much across social media platforms to gain publicity for agriculture and the work with wildlife and conservation, it has been a very strange year indeed.
What do you aim to achieve in the future within your business and/or the competition? - Raise awareness for the industry as a whole as to how agriculture can feed the nation, benefit the economy and the environment.
Where do you display your shields? - This year only on the mantlepiece to date but hope to make more use of them later this year.
What would you say to anyone who is thinking of entering for the first time? - Have a go, you have nothing to lose but so much to gain.
I have only been entering CFC for two years after seeing it pop up on Facebook and not knowing much about it. I have since entered the Beef Feeding, Beef Breeding and Whole Farm Classes. In 2018 I came third in the Beef Breeding Class. In 2019 I had a very successful year coming second in the Beef Feeding Class and first in both the Beef Breeding and Farms Under 300 Acres. This led me onto becoming the Reserve Champion in all the winning Farm Classes. This has had a really good impact on the farm business, my own personal and staff morale. It has also driven us on to new things and generated lots of publicity for the Mobberley Angus whilst also building up a network of great farmers.
Since doing so well in these Classes within the Farms Competition it inspired us to go on and enter The Farmers Guardian Competition in 2019 where we came second. We are currently in the final three of the Farmers Weekly Awards with the results due out soon!
I am also an AHDB Strategic Farmer and NFU ambassador. I am proud of how the Mobberley Angus brand has been strengthened and pedigree sales increased. I have Dyslexia and so find some aspects of farming a challenge, such as office work. I make myself do it so I get better. I am really positive about beef farming.
I would say to anyone thinking of entering the Cheshire Farms Competition- just go for it. I have really enjoyed it, a great group of positive people. The Awards evening is fab, it’s a really good night and you’ve got to be in it to win it. It can only do good for your business.
About the farm
- Sucker beef
- Store finisher selling DW.
- Pedigree bull sales
- Sell to ABP.
- Local butchers set own prices builds name/brand
- Upping cow numbers from 70-120 aiming 150
- Feeding at night to calve in day
- CCTV moo call
- Calving data lots. calving ease, condition score, time of calving ,dam docility, birth weight
- Reduced calving from 23 weeks to 12 in 3 years
- Colostrum testing
- Tagging tag test BVD, DNA, EID
- Grass Based
- Rotation grazing
- Egg counts blood tests/instead of routine worming
- Min/bolas £22 a cow to £4.60 a cow
- Out door weaning
- Out wintering
- Reduce cows size 750kg-650kg
- Reduce costs
- Farmplan cattle manger cash focus help reduce work and track costs. looks pro when selling stock. food chain + import kill data very important.
- Mihub set targets track and react when needed
- Permanent fencing check quick easy add value to farm very low running costs very Flexible/versatile
There are a number of businesses and enterprises based at the farm including:
Mobberley Brewhouse, Flaming gourmand BBQ, Wedding Planner, Painter/decorator, Container storage, Wedding field, Carpark
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