Low Houselop Farm (2017 - 2021)

David Monkhouse
Bishop Auckland
Farm sectors:
Beef & Lamb
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About Low Houselop Farm (2017 - 2021)

  • Beef and Lamb Strategic Farmer from 2017 until 2021
  • 110ha upland farm in County Durham
  • Flock consists of 300 crossed ewes and 250 black faced ewes
  • Cattle include 80 crossbred Limousin and Beef Shorthorn cows
  • Youngstock sold as stores

When David joined the Strategic Farm programme his aims were to:

  1. Reduce average age at first calving
  2. Improve soil health and implement rotational grazing to reduce feed costs
  3. Increase his farms resilience to changes in agricultural policy

At the start of the programme, David invested in a set of weigh scales. This helped him ensure that heifers were on target to bull at 15 months of age, to calve at two years old. During the project David reduced his age at first calving from an average of 30 months to 24 months.

Acquiring weighing scales also helped David understand when was the best time to sell his youngstock. Previously he used to wait until spring, when the calves were a year old before selling them, however through weighing, he realised they weren’t gaining enough weight during the housing period to cover the additional costs of keeping them. He now sells all youngstock, apart from heifers retained for breeding, before Christmas.

David has worked hard to improve his soil health on his upland farm. He conducted a soil health review at the start of the project to understand the physical, biological and chemical properties of the soil. By implementing rotational grazing and liming, David has improved the soil pH and organic matter levels.

Further information on testing soil health can be found here https://ahdb.org.uk/knowledge-library/testing-soil-health

Finally, to build resilience in his farm, David has diversified into deer, which fits in well with his beef and sheep enterprises. You can find out more about how you can build resilience by visiting https://ahdb.org.uk/farm-business-review/business-resilience-assessment

David Monkhouse

David Monkhouse

David farms a flock of 300 crossed ewes and 250 black faced ewes along with a herd of cattle including 80 crossbred Limousin and Beef Shorthorn cows in Bishop Auckland, County Durham.