Young Farmers profiles: David Ketteringham
- Credit: Norfolk Young Farrmers
As part of our regular series of profiles on the region's Young Farmers' Club (YFC) members, contract shepherd DAVID KETTERINGHAM talks about the childhood origins of his business.
Growing up in Ashill on the family smallholding it was evident from a young age I had the bug for working with sheep.
From helping my Dad with his few ewes, doing jobs with them and looking forward to the shearer coming each year, farming was clearly the direction I was heading in.
While still at school at the age of fifteen I was given the opportunity to take on a parkland in Ashill to graze, buying my first 52 ewes with lambs at foot and my flock was started. During study leave for my GCSEs I managed to squeeze in a British Wool Board shearing course so I could shear my own ewes that year, and I went on to help a few other people with theirs to gain some practice.
I went on to do a National Diploma in Agriculture at Easton College where I met loads of new friends all of the same mindset with a passion for farming whatever area it may be in. We all would often meet up at a weekend at a young farmers social or dinner dance and this is when I joined North Elmham Young Farmers' Club.
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By the time I left Easton College I knew I had too many sheep of my own to take on a full-time job anywhere so upon being offered a few shearing jobs and some winter work fencing and lambing, I went self-employed and haven't looked back since.
I have built my own flock up every year in numbers as I've been able to rent more grass in surrounding villages and have found that the contract work has just got busier and busier with my year getting more and more booked up.
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This time of year I look after a lot of store lambs on forage crops, sugar beet tops and stubble turnips and spend my day electric fencing or moving groups around onto new fields with my three border collies, Star, Jess and a rather excitable puppy Pip.
This year I have increased my ewes again and will be lambing just over 500 during March. I'm hoping to have them pregnancy scanned this week so that I know what to expect. I lamb them at home so that I can keep a close eye on them day or night in case there are any birthing problems I have to assist with. Through lambing time it is incredibly long hours with very little sleep but it makes it all worth it when walking around checking the groups of ewes and their lambs once they are turned out to grass.
If the weather is right we start shearing in early May through to July with the exception of shearing some show sheep indoors at other times of the year. I love getting to see different areas of East Anglia, seeing different people every day, learning how different people do things and catching up with people I may only see once a year.
With several friends being in Young Farmers across the county, I recently signed as a member again, this time joining Wymondham YFC. I went along to a new members evening, not knowing many people initially but instantly being made welcome and by the end of the evening having gained several new friends. Wymondham has members from all different careers in and out of agriculture and whether it be at a meeting, at the pub, social, dinner dance or anywhere – there's always someone to have a laugh with.
Name: David Ketteringham
Occupation: Contract shepherd / shearer
YFC club: Wymondham
How long have you been a YFC member?: Four months at Wymondham, two years at North Elmham
Wymondham YFC meets at the Lime Tree Avenue Community Centre in Wymondham on Monday evenings. For more details contact the county office on 01603 731307.