Judith Jacobs, Red Tractor beef and lamb farmer
Judith tells us about running her Red Tractor Assured farm in Peterborough
Judith Jacobs and her family run a 500 acre mixed farm in Peterborough. She farms mainly crops such as wheat, barley, oats, sugar beet and oilseed rape. She also runs a herd of 50 suckler cows and a flock of 100 Charollais ewes as well as 10 Jacob ewes who share the family name.
How long have you been a farmer?
I am a third generation farmer; I was born in Staffordshire on a dairy farm so it’s always been something I’ve grown up with. My granddad was a farmer but he had to go off to the war and by the time he came back there really wasn’t anything left of his farm, so my dad built it back up from nothing. We used to help him milk the cows before we went off to school and I apply the same work ethic to my farming today.
Can you tell us about a typical day in the life on your farm?
On an average day I get up about 6.45am, get a cup of tea in my flask and go round the farm to check on all the cows and sheep to ensure they are alright with plenty of food and drink. I take my kids off to school. When I get back, I do a bit of office work in relation to the farm and the records we keep on all the animals and various health plans for them, there is also some admin work I have to do for our farm shop. We check on the animals throughout the day ensuring they have everything they need. Farming is different every day, so we’re always prepared for what the day brings.
How important is food and farming to you?
We’re pretty passionate about local produce and connecting people with their food. We attend the local farmers’ markets and host a number of educational visits on the farm and offsite to help show the next generation where their food comes from. We are part of the Countryside Stewardship Scheme and we host up to 100 school visits a year, so we’re also checking and preparing for a visit making sure health and safety measures are in place. There is always something to organise and prepare with the farm and the shop.
How do you ensure the welfare of your animals?
Red Tractor food and farming standards provide guidance ensuring the welfare for livestock, but as a farmer the welfare is a number one priority. As soon as they are born, we ensure they are healthy and ready for the world. We feed the calves colostrum, as soon as they can stand up, which contains various antibodies the calf needs to survive and thrive during its first months. We monitor their growth and make sure they are mothered well and at 3 days they are tagged. Once we are confident the mother and calf have bonded they are mixed in with other cows that have calved. Cows are very social animals and like to be kept with the herd.
Throughout their life we ensure they are wormed and vaccinated to protect them from any illnesses that could harm them. They are also extensively grazed throughout the summer to ensure they benefit from all the luscious grass. In the winter we move the cattle into open indoor barns with plenty of space, fresh air and straw bedding to shelter them from the cold weather. We feed them on homemade silage and home grown rolled wheat to ensure they are never hungry and have all the nutrients they need.
What measures do you have in place to ensure you farm responsibly in terms of the environment?
Things like our muck is always stacked at least 10 metres away from drains so that there is no pollution risk there. We have field boundaries strips all around the outside to protect any waste from entering the water ways.
All of us who work on the farm are well qualified and keep up to date with latest development in all aspects of farming. Lots of on-going training the latest standards and reading is required by the Red Tractor scheme so we farm responsibly.
Why should shoppers look for the Red Tractor on their food?
It’s total traceability, which no other independent scheme provides. For Red Tractor food labeling your meat has to be born here in the UK or your produce must be planted here and then it enters a highly regulated supply chain with minimal food miles involved in delivering your food from farm to shopper. We also know how much care and compassion goes in to Red Tractor assured food because we do it every day and we’re proud of what we do!
What’s your favourite time of year as a farmer?
Spring, definitely. The temperature is increasing, everything is starting to grow, lambs are being born and the days are getting lighter. What’s not to like!