Finalists: Farm manager of the year, sponsored by Mole Country Stores

Matthew Emmott

MATTHEW, 26, was brought up on his family's 1,436-acre grass and hill farm at Wythop Hall, Cockermouth, which is farmed by his father with Matthew's help.

In 2014, Matthew became contract manager at Old Scales Farm, Cockermouth, for Lord Inglewood and he works between the two farms.

At Wythop Hall, the family runs a suckler herd of 40 breeding Limousin and Belgian blue cross cows, with the spring calves sold as stores the following year. There are also 1,000 Swaledale ewes and 20 Blue-Face Leicester ewes.

Matthew attended Newton Rigg College at Penrith and was awarded the James Allison Trust Award for animal care in 2011-12. On leaving college, he was asked to return to teach students how to shear sheep which he did for a while.

At Old Scales Farm, Matthew has helped to develop the flock and there are now 1,300 breeding ewes averaging 150-160 per cent when lambing. About 18 acres of grass is cut for hay/haylage each year.

Matthew Emmott

Matthew Emmott

Matthew is also building his own flock of pedigree Swaledales, which he keeps at home, running with his father's flock. In 2016, his knowledge of sheep was rewarded when he was given the job of judging Blue-Faced Leicesters at H & H Auctions, Carlisle. Matthew has since gone on to judge at Bowes, Gosforth, Ennerdale and Cockermouth auctions, and is much in demand as a judge.

He enjoys showing his own flock of Swaledale sheep. In 2017, he was third at Malvern NSA in the Young Shepherd of the Year, and later went on to win first prize in the ‘C’ District Swaledale Shearling Small Breeder Category.

Matthew has been a keen member of Greysouthen YFC for the last 15 years and is the current club chairman.


Bevis Jordan

BEVIS Jordan moved to the Whitfield Estate, Hexham, 26 years ago to manage 4,000 farmed acres – 2,500 acres of heather moorland and 1,500 acres of in-bye lowland ground – which runs from 700 to 1000 feet.

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

He says that his objective has 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 means 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.

Bevis Jordan

Bevis Jordan

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.

James Todd

JAMES became the manager of the two farms at Newton Rigg, Cumbria, in 2017, having previously managed a dairy farm in the Eden Valley for four years.

Sewborwens Farm is a lowland farm of 180 hectares, which is home to a 250 pedigree Holstein dairy herd, with 193 following heifers, 220 North of England Mule sheep and an arable enterprise.

James Todd

James Todd

Lower Beckside Farm is a upland hill farm in Mungrisdale of 143 hectares with common grazing rights on the fell. On the grass at the farm, there are 350 sheep mostly Mules, with some Swaledales and Cheviots too. There are an additional 350 Swaledales running on the fell.

The dairy herd is conventionally milked twice a day by students from the college, with James overseeing day-to-day management and performance.

The cows at Sewborwens Farm are housed all year and in 2019, milk yields had increased from 9,126 litres per cow to 10,660 litres. In 2020, this increased again to 10,780 per cow, with 43.5 per cent fat and 32.2 per cent protein.

The Mule flock will lamb from the end of January, with lambs being reared and sold from mid-April. The 2020 average lamb price was £80, having risen from £74 in 2019.

Low Beckside Farm is home to the remainder of the sheep, with the small beef herd of about 15 breeding Luing and Simmental cross Luing cows based here. They are now introducing a Limousin bull to these cows to produce more commercially popular crosses.

The main focus of the farms is to educate students and to ensure they are fully prepared for a future career in agriculture. The farming students are given the opportunity to try all aspects of farming from livestock to arable in a commercial environment.

  • The Northern Farmer Awards 2021 will take place – virtually – on Thursday, February 25. Log onto at 7pm to watch the ceremony. Get involved on social media using #northernfarmerawards