From bricks to beef: Meet the builder who also farms cattle

Wymondham-based builder Tom Seaman with the cattle herd he runs in his spare time

Wymondham-based builder Tom Seaman with the cattle herd he runs in his spare time - Credit: Sonya Duncan

A self-employed Norfolk builder says he is proud to be keeping his family's farming heritage alive - by running a cattle herd in his spare time.

Tom Seaman, 32, has constructed a career building anything from new houses to garden patios.

But despite the demands of his day job, he also tends his beloved cattle every morning and evening, and devotes countless hours to breeding and preparing them for livestock shows.

He said his cattle-farming grandfather John Nickalls laid the foundations for this twin career, nurturing his love for livestock but also urging him to "go and get yourself a trade".

Wymondham-based builder Tom Seaman runs a cattle herd in his spare time

Wymondham-based builder Tom Seaman runs a cattle herd in his spare time - Credit: Sonya Duncan

When his grandfather died ten years ago, Mr Seaman’s parents took over the family smallholding at Suton, near Wymondham, and the builder took on the cattle enterprise at the farm where both his ventures are now based.

And he has even built his own house there so he can keep a closer eye on his animals during the winter months.

"The smallholding has been in the family for decades - my great grandparents were there originally, and there has always been livestock on the farm," said Mr Seaman. 

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"I have always loved the cattle and showing them and now trying to breed that perfect animal. It is just bred into me.

"It is never a chore to come and do my cows because I love it so much, that is my time to relax and spend time with them." 

Mr Seaman has run his own building firm for five years and he said working alongside two other subcontractors gave him the flexibility to respond to his animals when needed.

Wymondham-based builder Tom Seaman with the cattle herd he runs in his spare time

Wymondham-based builder Tom Seaman with the cattle herd he runs in his spare time - Credit: Sonya Duncan

The herd is currently 35 strong, including 20 breeding cows, a pedigree Limousin bull and the calves, which all graze on rented land at Swardeston marshes in the summer.

And he said the contrast between his business and his herd often helped ease the varying pressures of each.

"Sometimes you get a bad day or a bad calving but you can then go to work and almost put it to one side, so they balance themselves out," he said.

"And if you have a bad day at work you come down here on a summer's evening and see these animals, it takes everything away."

Cattle farmer Tom Seaman with signs warning walkers of livestock dangers on grazing land at Swardeston

Cattle farmer Tom Seaman with signs warning walkers of livestock dangers on grazing land at Swardeston - Credit: Sonya Duncan

Disease warning to dog walkers

Mr Seaman also said he wanted to warn dog walkers of the disease dangers their pets could pose to cattle.

One of his rented grazing fields near Swardeston has a public footpath which is clearly labelled with signs warning that livestock are in the field and dogs should be kept on leads.

"He urged dog walkers and ramblers to be careful around calves with protective mothers - and also to be aware of the risk of neospora, a parasite carried by dogs which can be an infectious cause of weak calves and abortions in cattle.

"People just need to be thinking that when they go through fields with cattle and young calves, the mothers are just being protective over the calves," he said.

"But if they are sensible, give the cows a wide berth and keep the dog on a lead, they shouldn't have any problems.

"Also, clearing up dogs' mess is very important because of neospora. It comes through dogs' mess, so if people don't clear up after their dogs and the cattle graze through the grass, that is how it is then transmitted onto the livestock."

Wymondham-based builder Tom Seaman runs a cattle herd in his spare time

Wymondham-based builder Tom Seaman runs a cattle herd in his spare time - Credit: Sonya Duncan