Award for North Norfolk estate’s livestock manager

Award-winning North Norfolk stock manager Jon Smith has been praised for his livestock skills and enthusiasm in training students.

He was the second annual winner of an award for clients of Norfolk Farm Vets, which aims to recognise livestock enterprises achieving outstanding results.

Mr Smith, of Chalk Hill Farm, who joined the Holkham estate's farming team four years ago, was presented with a shield and bottle of champagne at the Assembly Rooms, Swaffham.

Will Stevenson, director of the Grimston-based practice, said: 'Jon is a worthy winner of this award. Nothing is too much trouble for him and he puts an enormous amount of effort into running a successful unit and helping others.'

The judges were impressed that he was 'enthusiastic, knowledgeable and an authority on the restructuring and commercial aspects of feeding and animal management.'

Mr Smith's efforts on behalf of the estate to encourage young entrants into the industry was also praised. He takes on students from Easton College and was delighted with his latest recruit, Ryan Thornhill, aged 17. 'He's a good hard working young man. He's not from a farming background and lives in the middle of Fakenham.'

As a Level II livestock students, he works four days a week and then spends one day at college. 'He started in September and has had quite a baptism of fire coping with the horrendous weather and about 500 head of cattle,' said Yorkshireman Mr Smith, who has lived in Norfolk for the past 16 years.

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'The main issue has been water. What doesn't usually freeze has frozen this year. We've been running hosepipes here, there and everywhere just to get water to cattle. We winter a lot outside and that's been an issue as well.'

He runs about 200 breeding cows on the estate, with young stock and followers. 'I'm loving it. Holkham is a really good place to work,' he added.

The other finalists included Ian Spinks, of Grove Farm Partnership, Langham, for excellent performance. He runs 104 suckler cows, which are being graded up to pedigree status, with a four-way cross comprising two continental breeds, the Simmental and Gelbvieh, and native British breeds, the Red Aberdeen Angus and Hereford.

He had an area of grass and meadow meadows at Binham, which are best managed by grazing cattle. He is hoping that the farm's application for higher level stewardship will be accepted to run alongside the arable enterprises.

JF Temple & Son, of Copys Green Farm, Wighton, Wells, was praised for ongoing ability to attain excellent figures in terms of milk production and fertility. Stephen Temple has transformed the farm's environmental footprint with his biogas plant.

AG Wright & Son, of Haddenham, near Ely, also achieved top results with the herd of pedigree Herefords.