Skip to content
April 26, 2014 / Apley Estate - Hamiltons

Farming at Apley this Spring

hall 2011About once a quarter, I’ll be writing about Apley’s farming, key to the landscape of our beautiful Estate & providing Apley Farm Shop with delicious beef. This afternoon, I’ve caught up with Adrian Joynt, our Farm Manager, who leads our farming team, including Ivor, Bill & Ian Edwards (who took this lovely photo of Apley Park). Between them they cover 2600 acres over four farm bases – Apley Home Farm, Harrington, Astol & Grindle – growing wheat (Cordiale, Relay, Invicta, Zula, Leeds & JB Diego), barley (Cassia & Odyssey), oil seed rape (4 varieties – Avatar, Quartz, Troy & Trinity), potatoes (rented out), stubble turnips & fodder beet.

Wheat is grown for 3 reasons – milling (bread & biscuit flours), animal feed (but not for our own beef cattle – wheat tends to be given to pigs, poultry & dairy cattle) & seed (some we use ourselves, but the bulk of it is grown to contract, sold to a Shrewsbury seed merchant).  Barley is grown for animal feed & seed.

The oil seed rape, which makes our landscape look so cheerful & pretty at this time of year (if you’re not allergic !), is grown for crushing to be made into rape seed oil. Some goes to make bio degradable lubricants, some into plastics, but mostly into cooking oils. In Germany, much is used in their bio diesel market.

Stubble turnips are only used to graze sheep  in the winter months. They’re the size of tennis balls, resembling white beetroot. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Two thirds of the fodder beet gets used for to feed our own cattle & the last third we sell fairly locally. The bulk of it this year has been sold for use in anaerobic digesters (AD) for making renewable electricity. Adrian would prefer land was used for growing food & that only waste food was used in anaerobic digesters, given that 30% of the food worldwide is wasted.

As I’m currently trying a wheat free diet, I’ve been wondering why barley isn’t used as widely as wheat.  The UK produces approx. 4 times as much wheat as barley. Possibly the reason is that the gluten found in barley isn’t as suitable to the human digestive system as that found in wheat.  Any answers or clues are very welcome !

The calving season began mid February & has very nearly finished. They’ve calved 184 cross bred cows, mainly Limousin & Herefords because they’re good mothers & produce lean meat. They’ve been calved indoors & when the calves are 10 days old, they’re put out to graze on the farms’ parkland & grasslands. In mid November, the previous year’s calves are weaned from their mothers & housed in the farm buildings. At the same time, the cows (mothers) are also brought in to other barns & they stay there until they calve in the Spring.

22 Sept 2013, last of the 2013 harvestingWe have 4 bulls called Earl, Foofighter, Goliath & Gizmo. They’re only put in the fields with the cows for 10 weeks (1 bull to 35 cows), early May to mid July. For the rest of the year, they’re kept indoors (plenty of space, in large pens) where they’re fed on silage & cattle mix (a balance of soya, wheat, barley, sugar beet & minerals). They can’t be grazed in a field together as they would fight. In the Spring, the grass grows so fast, we have to harvest it as silage so it’s not wasted. This means we have cattle feed ready for the winter months.

During the winter months, hedges are cut (only allowed between 1 Sept & 1 March, to avoid the bird nesting season). For hawthorn hedges, it’s the 2nd year growth that produces the berries for the birds to feed on in winter. So we hedge cut half our hedges one year & the rest the following year.

The same farm staff who look after the cattle Nov to April, are then busy with preparing & harvesting crops for the other 6 months of the year. Winter is almost the only time in the farming calendar when gates, fences & machinery can be repaired. In the winter months, much time is also spent loading lorries with grain from our 7 grain stores. At this time, staff often take a winter holiday at this time & Adrian spends some time in the Farm Office planning for the following year & reviewing the previous year – what went well & not so well !


One Comment

Leave a Comment
  1. Mike wyle / Apr 26 2014 11:16 pm

    Lady Hamilton I am an avid reader of you blog, I am also a keen shooter I know how hard it is to get to get to shoot on estates like yours, but was wondering if there was any chance of any rabbit control on your estate, or if you could tell me of the process of applying to shoot on your estate, I know it’s a long shot, but if you don’t ask you never know many thanks mike

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: