NFU Mutual Smallholding Insurance

Author Topic: Anther new one (in Wiltshire)  (Read 544 times)


  • Joined Nov 2018
Anther new one (in Wiltshire)
« on: November 27, 2018, 02:11:56 pm »
Hi Everyone. I have been browsing for a little while and think this is a great website. So full of helpful, knowledgeable people.
We are in the process of buying 18 acres in Wiltshire. It is level, fairly well drained, grassland that has been grazed by cattle for it's recent history. The land is split in to 3 fields (approx 8, 6 and 4 acres) with lovely mature hedges and some larger trees. We have 2 horses that will be moving to the land but apart from that what we do with it is up for grabs. I had highland cows (pets) as a child and definitely fancy some cows (not highland. Maybe belted galloway, any thoughts on these?) and my son would like sheep. What would you do with this if it was yours and you were starting from scratch? There are no buildings at present but we would like to build a small barn in the first couple of years. We would like meat for ourselves and also would like to make a bit of money with the other bits we do. What is good on the subsidy front at the moment? I take it that is all up in the air at the moment because of brexit? I work part time so have a decent amount of time to dedicate it but not all the time.
Voss Electric Fence


  • Joined Nov 2015
  • Kernow - some say it's in England !
Re: Anther new one (in Wiltshire)
« Reply #1 on: December 01, 2018, 12:54:33 am »
Hi Sprig and welcome to the forum.  Hope the purchase goes through OK. 
Now, what to do with 18ac ?  As I'm not up on the whys and wherefores (and economics) of live-stock, which you obviously interested in, I'm not going to offer any thoughts. 
As to subsidies and Brexit effect, I would conjecture (off the top of my head) that it won't make much difference for farming 18ac no matter what turns out !?


  • Joined Feb 2012
  • Somerset
Re: Anther new one (in Wiltshire)
« Reply #2 on: December 01, 2018, 09:37:25 am »
Hi Sprig, and welcome to TAS  :wave: .

You will definitely need outbuildings and if you can run to a barn, that would be great. You will need it for storing hay, straw, feed and all the implements and equipment that quickly accumulates.

When it comes to livestock, start small and work your way up. You will need to learn about housing and fencing. You will probably need to divide up your larger fields into smaller ones so that you can rotate the grazing between different animals. Electric fencing may be a good way to start. Does all your land have easy access to water or do you need to install some?

I know chickens won't take up a lot of land but they are useful way to begin to work out all of the above. Also a good introduction to livestock for children. How about getting a few ram lambs next year and raising them over the summer? Investigate local abattoirs  first.

Once you have had a season of "beginner" smallholding you can start to think about breeding and introducing other livestock.  :)


  • Joined Nov 2018
Re: Anther new one (in Wiltshire)
« Reply #3 on: December 01, 2018, 08:11:24 pm »
Thanks both. The perimeter fencing is all fairly recent, luckily. Just one run that needs replacing and a few gate posts. We will probably split the land down further with electric to start with before putting up any more permanent fencing. We have good contacts locally so know the best smallholder friendly abattoir and someone who will process the meat for us. We also have a source of orphan lambs if we want them but not decided on that yet. 
There is mains water to one of the fields and will need, at some point, to run pipework to the rest. There are plans for a barn but we will probably not be able to afford that for a couple of years. In the mean time we will probably acquire a couple of field shelters/sheds for storage.


  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • Wester Gladstone Hebridean Sheep
Re: Anther new one (in Wiltshire)
« Reply #4 on: December 01, 2018, 11:05:33 pm »
Hi Sprig and welcome to your new life.  I hope you love it as much as we do.

I'm not a fan of orphan lambs.  Commercial farmers often opt to get rid of them if they can because they are a problem to raise economically, perhaps having health problems and being at a disadvantage in their start in life.  Maybe they didn't get their dam's colostrum in the first six hours of life, maybe they just had a low birth weight, maybe they were rejected by the dam because they have something wrong which you can't see but the dam can, or maybe they are just the runt of triplets.  This can lead to high input rearing, with antibiotics and other meds needed, which all adds to your costs, and also to the quality of the meat.  You will all fall in love with your orphans so abattoir day becomes impossible.

My suggestion for sheep would be to think slow (as already mentioned),  learn about your new local area, the soil, the markets, the weather for the first year, then buy in three ewes, in lamb, next autumn, and learn on them.  You will get 5 or 6 lambs from 3 ewes, which are reared by the ewe so no feeding for you, and no being followed around by noisy lambs (it's fun at first but then they get big and smelly, insistent and a bit of a pest).  Once you've gone through the process over the shepherd's year, you'll have a better idea of whether you want to go in for sheep, either breeding for selling breeding stock, or as meat, then you can up your numbers, change the breed, whatever, or do something different.

I agree about hens - the smallholder's life has to include hens, which help you slow down so you can listen to their wonderful chatter  :hughen: :hughen: :hughen:

I have no experience of cattle, but Belties have lovely woolly ears  :eyelashes:
« Last Edit: December 01, 2018, 11:07:33 pm by Fleecewife »

Do something today that your future self will thank you for - plant a tree

Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus - let sleeping dragons lie

Mad Goatwoman of Madeley

  • Joined Sep 2011
  • Telford
Re: Anther new one (in Wiltshire)
« Reply #5 on: December 01, 2018, 11:36:30 pm »
Hi Sprig  :wave: and welcome to TAS. Wiltshire is lovely. Whereabouts are you going to be? We used to live in Frome, Somerset so very near the border.


  • Joined Nov 2018
Re: Anther new one (in Wiltshire)
« Reply #6 on: December 02, 2018, 10:45:52 am »
We will be just off the northern edge of Salisbury Plain so not far from Frome. We are local anyway, it is just the land that is going to be new. Love it round here, I think it is an under rated part of the country.

Mad Goatwoman of Madeley

  • Joined Sep 2011
  • Telford
Re: Anther new one (in Wiltshire)
« Reply #7 on: December 02, 2018, 06:53:01 pm »
It certainly is.


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