Show Notes

This week on the Head Shepherd podcast we have Robert Hodgkins, a British sheep and arable farmer. 

Robert and his partner Jo farm about 45 minutes north of London in the UK. Roberts father was a first generation farmer, and Robert worked on the farm from a young age. At 16, he decided farming wasn't for him and completed a degree in Engineering and Mathematics. He then went on to work for Caterpillar and Ford, but 7 years on he realised he hated office life- he just wanted to crack on with something- that something was farming again. 

Roberts father converted to outdoor lambing when he was a young teen, which set him on the track he's on now of farming New Zealand genetics in the UK. Concentrating on the narrow shoulders, wide pelvis and maternal ability, they manage to reduce any lambing issues which keeps his "local" population of 4 million happy. 

They began with English Romney sheep, and quickly realised they needed to target the New Zealand Romney which resulted in Wairere UK being formed with Roberts father and Derek Daniell.

In 2014 Robert left the home farm and moved north, and took the payment of 200 cull ewes, sheep handling system and a sheep dog. Within four years they had a flock of 2,000 ewes. In 2016 they had the opportunity to take on 1,500 acres of arable land and they jumped at the chance with Jos experience in arable farming. They borrowed close to $4million to set up their new arable farm- "An amazing time" is what Robert calls it! 

Mark and Robert discuss the UK farming system and all of its difficulties. With 14 different landlords on rolling contracts and various BPS and environmental schemes, it can get a lot to juggle. They also cover how Robert approaches his final product and the market he supplies, and what the next 10 years hold for the couple.  

This is a great listen with lots of laughs and some top conversation.

To find out more about Robert and Jo, visit their website

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