Finalists: Sheep farmer of the year, sponsored by The Northern Farmer

Sarah Hoggarth

SARAH Hoggarth runs the tenanted family enterprise at Birkhaw Farm, Howgill, Sedburgh.

The farm comprises 120 acres, of which 80 acres are at Birkhaw with another 40 acres rented locally, and they also have fell/common grazing rights.

She is currently running 220 Rough Fell Breed Ewes and takes in cattle for summer grazing to help improve and maintain the quality of grazing. At the moment there is herd of 11 Limousin heifers and 25 Friesian heifers.

Sarah’s parents still live in the house on the farm although they are retired. Sarah took over the tenancy just over five years ago. Her husband is from another local farming family but works predominantly as a builder which is useful around the farm. Their two daughters aged 12 and ten are keen to continue on the farm and are good with the sheep. This spring when schools were closed, the girls were even more involved on the farm.

When Sarah left school, her parents were keen for her to try other things so she went to college, qualified as a secretary and had a couple of jobs, including at the local school, up until having the girls. She then worked full-time on the farm fitting her commitments around the children. They also have a small number of hens for eggs, which are managed by the two girls, with eggs being sold at the farm gate.

Last spring, they reared 350 lambs from 220 ewes. About eight years ago, they bought a very good Rough Fell Tup and his descendants were making a good name in the showing ring, before the pandemic.

In 2019, Sarah’s eldest daughter won Reserve Champion Gimmer Lamb at the Moorcock Show against some stiff adult competition. The farm rears all lambs through to a good weight before selling as fat lambs throughout the season.

Kenton Foster

THE family tenanted smallholding is at Garrison near Leyburn and is ten acres with buildings. It has been in the family since the 1900’s when Kenton's grandfather took over the tenancy. Although the tenancy is in his 89-year-old father's name, Kenton runs the business.

Major investment in the farm is not possible at this time due to the uncertainty as to whether Kenton will be able to take over the tenancy.

He also rents a further 30 acres from March to December near Leyburn; eight acres, also close by, on a three-year grazing licence and has ten acres some distance away near Melsonby – it is all grassland.

Kenton Foster

Kenton Foster

After finishing school at 16, Kenton worked locally on farms and went to Bedale Agricultural College on day release for five years. At the same time, in 1994, he started his own small flock of Swaledales at home with his dad. His first venture into showing was as a young lad with two tup lambs.

While working on other farms, he also worked part-time at Leyburn Mart and developed a keen eye for quality animals. He was ‘talent spotted’ there and moved on to work as a meat grader at Busby Stoop abattoir, near Thirsk.

While working as grader of sheep and cattle, he trained as an auctioneer at St Boswell's Mart and carried out part-time auctioneering duties. Now working as an independent grader and adviser, he carries out deadweight grading and marketing ‘on farm’ throughout North Yorkshire with regular clients as far afield as Scarborough and Whitby, as well as in the Yorkshire Dales.

He is also chairman of Wensleydale Agricultural Show and served six years as chairman of the Charollais Sheep Society and also of the North East Regional Chairman.

Hannah Jackson

HANNAH Jackson, known around the world as The Red Shepherdess, is not from a farming background, but at the age of only 28, she has established herself as a respected, innovative and passionate young farmer.

After completing a degree in animal behaviour, Hannah was enthralled by the birth of a lamb while on a family holiday in the Lake District, and decided to become a sheep farmer. She completed work experience on a sheep farm, before travelling to Australia for further experience. When she returned to the UK, she took on contract shepherding jobs up and down the country.

At her farm near Carlisle, there are 26 acres of owned grassland with a further 40 acres rented. In 2020, a further 11 acres were rented and have been sown with swedes for winter feed. For 2021 lambing season, there are 200 sheep to lamb with a further 50 young stock that will not lamb until 2022 season.

Hannah Jackson

Hannah Jackson

She now also has four dogs, two older more experienced ones, a young part-trained dog and a young puppy recently purchased from Emma Grey.

She has a few pygmy goats kept at present purely for pleasure, along with one pig, a dales pony, hens and ducks. "Together we are Team Red", she says.

Hannah posts about her work on the farm and working with sheep on Facebook under the title of Red Shepherdess, which has led to a following of more than 100,000. She also does some public speaking and writes for news and farming press. She launched her own range of clothing a year ago, comprising practical sweatshirts, hoodies, and hats, and in March 2021, Hannah's first book Call Me Red will be published.

  • 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