THE work of a farm manager in a remote part of Tynedale for a quarter of a century has been recognised.

Bevis Jordan has managed Whitfield Estate for 26 years ago, over 4,000 farmed acres, and his sterling efforts over that time led to him being named the farm manager of the year at the Northern Farmer Awards 2021.

The farm at Whifield supports 1,600 Swaledale sheep and 130 Saler cross Limousin suckler cows.

Bevis said that his objective had been to improve the foundation of the farm’s key output drivers to keep input costs down and, ultimately, lead to a more sustainable business model.

This meant doing routine testing on the lowland in-bye ground to address any deficiencies so forage production is maintained. To optimise forage output, any lowland grassland that can be reseeded is included in a winter forage crop rotation and all lowland grassland is rotationally grazed.

At tupping, 1,000 ewes are put back to a Swaledale tup and 600 ewes are put to a Blue-Faced Leicester for mule lambs. On average, ewes tupped to a Swaledale will scan between 125-130 per cent and those that are crossbred will scan at 155-165 per cent.

When Bevis first took over the suckler herd, they were a mixture of various native breed crosses. Following the 2001 foot-and-mouth outbreak and the increasing threat of TB, he set about breeding a herd of replacements.

He settled on the Saler breed, as the animals have a good temperament, are hardy, have small calves, which grow well and have a good size pelvis for calving ease.

The farmland is mostly in the Higher Level Stewardship Scheme and the entire estate, which includes a further 10,000 acres, is in the North Pennines AONB, as well as being covered by national and European environmental designations. Conservation, therefore, plays an important part in the management planning. The estate has a thriving population of wading birds, most particularly curlew, but also lapwing, oystercatchers, redshank and golden plover.

There was other Tynedale representation in the awards, with Tom and Di Harrison, of Old Potato Farm, Old Mickley, shortlisted in the beef farmer of the year category.

Twenty-two-year-old Harriet Gallagher, of Newcastle University’s Nafferton Farm, near Stocksfield was also a finalist in the young farmer of the year classification.