James Small, Red Tractor lamb farmer
It’s a busy time of year at Warren Farm on top of the Mendip Hills in Somerset where farmer James Small’s fields are about to be full of lambs.
He has around 1,400 sheep which will give birth over the next month, and some will even have twins, giving James nearly 3,000 animals to keep an eye on.
Fortunately, Warren Farm is a family affair, so James will have some help in the form of his parents, Bill and Pat, to keep an eye on all the lambs as they grow up.
The family has been at the farm since 1945, starting with James’s grandfather who then passed it on to Bill and John.
It has expanded since those days but the aim of the farm has stayed very much the same.
“As anyone who keeps animals knows, it takes a lot of care and attention to make sure they are in the best condition and happy in their environment,” James said. “We may have thousands of them, but it’s very much the same principle here on our farm – we try to create the best environment for our sheep to grow and thrive.”
James has been part of the Red Tractor Assurance scheme for more than 10 years, meaning that with 12 hours’ notice he will receive a visit from an independent inspector who will look at many aspects of his sheep farming business to ensure they are being done to the best possible standards.
For example, inspectors will examine what the sheep are being fed, check that they look fit and healthy, go through records of the animal medicines that have been administered and also ensure that any equipment used is in good, safe condition.
“In this country farmers produce food to strict regulations, but by being a Red Tractor farm we want to show shoppers that the lamb they are buying has been produced to the highest possible health and welfare standards,” he said.
When James’ lamb appears on the shelves of food stores and supermarkets, it carries the Red Tractor logo to show that it has been produced to these high standards.
“The part I play is just up to the point when it leaves the farm, but when you buy a piece of lamb with the logo on it you can be 100% confident that it’s been assured all the way from the farm to your plate.”
The Red Tractor logo on a pack is also the only way that customers can guarantee that the lamb they are buying has been born, farmed and then processed in Britain.
“I would urge anyone who is out shopping, wherever they are, to look for the Red Tractor logo on the food they are buying. By doing this you will know that you are buying something that’s assured and British. If you can’t find that logo, perhaps you need to think about why it’s not being used.”
Warren Farm factbox:
- The farm has 1,400 sheep
- They are of the Beulah Speckled Face breed which originated from the hills of Wales
- The sheep are perfectly suited to Warren Farm because they can live outdoors all year round and give birth to their lambs outside too
- They give birth to their lambs in May when the weather is warmer and drier
- The sheep can graze on the grass that covers more than 1,000 acres – about the size of 500 football pitches
- James uses four Border Collie dogs and a quad bike to round up the sheep and check on their condition