Young Farmers Focus: George Ellis - 'It has been a massive challenge learning the farm by scratch and making management decisions'

Alex Black
clock • 2 min read
Young Farmers Focus: George Ellis - 'It has been a massive challenge learning the farm by scratch and making management decisions'

George Ellis, 28, is a sheep and beef farmer in South Worcestershire who is a proud ambassador for the NSA.

I graduated from Harper Adams University in 2019 and soon found myself deer farming in New Zealand for nine months which was a fantastic experience. 

But it was a time to come home to the UK and start a new business on the family farm with my mum, Lynn, after my grandad passed away from cancer.

The only thing we had was 50 acres of grassland and 250 acres of arable shared farmland without having any livestock.

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George Ellis described some of the challenges he faces as a young farmer in Worcestershire

There was a lot of hard work put in to getting to where we are now with 250 ewes for breeding and growing 100 dairy cattle from rearing to finishing. 

It has been a massive challenge learning the farm by scratch and making management decisions, mostly by myself.

In a way, I see it as a blessing because I'm not bound by previous generations and their traditions of farming. 

I decided from the start I wanted forage-based breeds and sheep which could lamb outdoors with the Romney breed. 

In terms of our beef rearing, we buy them in from two weeks old which my mum hand rears herself.

The sheep are all performance recorded, tagged at birth and since last year registered with SIL. 

My focus right now is to get the most functional sheep I can, culling hard on issues with feet, lambing problems and fly strike. 

For instance, I am leaving some tails on too and finding a massive variation in tail lengths as well as wooliness around the tail. 

The aim is to maximise the returns from grass and grow as much as we can. 

I started rotational grazing two years ago but getting it right is still a work in progress.

Infrastructure has been my biggest limiting factor and getting the whole system to work harmoniously is a challenge.

I've learned a lot about the farm since starting; soil testing for minerals and organic matter and working out the rainfall and soil types. 

Last September, I visited New Zealand and managed to visit a couple of farms growing lucerne and was kindly taught how to graze it with sheep and cattle. 

This is why I drilled 17 acres at the beginning of May with the hope being that lucerne and clover ley will be the high-quality feed for weaned lambs.

The grassland is now at 200 acres with more stock needed in my opinion.

I entered the countryside stewardship this year and put in 75 acres of GS4 herbal ley along.

A lot of new fencing and water infrastructure is needed but fingers crossed once done the system should run efficiently in the future.

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