An enterprising Bicton College student is to bring 250 ewes to 65 acres of land at Peek, on the Dartington estate this week, for a five-year tenancy using low-impact farming methods.
Ross Birbeck has always been passionate about farming, having started aged 14 when he bought and cared for 30 store (low-weight) lambs on a nature reserve in Newton Abbot.
Ross says: “I’m keen for the public to understand more about farming, so fencing will guide people through the flock, so they can watch the lambing and see the sheep progress.
“Local people can also volunteer to help during lambing, and I’ll be selling lambs direct – to supply local meat to local plates.”
Ross acquired his stock from British Farming Award’s Sheep Innovator of the Year winner Mike Tewson from Newton Abbot, who supports new entrants to the livestock sector by providing them with stock upfront and sheep are returned over the following years in payment.
Ross will use Mike’s all-forage system in which sheep graze on pasture all year and are not in kept in barns in the winter. They are also fed hay and silage outdoors rather than concentrated feed in troughs.
Estate manager John Channon says: “We want to do all we can to use the land to support local people’s enterprises.
“Ross’s plans fit well with the aspirations of the land use review by concentrating on the production of local food and giving a new entrant to farming a rare opportunity to develop.”