Last Friday I took a trip to Spilsby to visit young cattle farmer, Edward Middleton. Edward, 25, runs his Lincoln Red and Limousin cattle on his family farm in the heart of Lincolnshire. It was great to be able to visit Edward's farm and see his cattle grazing in the meadows. Especially as Edward is very busy on the show circuit this year at which he has had great success, including Female Champion at Woodall Spa County Show and Lincoln Red Champion at Rutland Show. As well as success in the show ring, Edward and his cattle have had a lot of media attention this year including being featured in Hello! magazine and have featured on 'Look North'.
How long have you been interested in cattle and how did you become so involved with them?
I've been interested in farming and livestock from an early age, my passion for cattle has grown the last 10 years, we had fattening cattle on the farm previously but I started out on my own with pedigree Lincoln Reds in 2013 and more recently pedigree Limousin. I got the cattle showing bug after taking part in the young farmers heifer handling competition at Lincolnshire Show and a year later I bought my first Lincoln red heifers.
Edward, 25, established his Lincoln Red herd in 2013 and recently introduced a Limousin Herd.
What made you choose the Lincoln Red breed?
I guess it’s the local breed, I've always liked them and they look great to look at in a field with the sun shining on their dark, red coats! There great mothers, docile, and finish easy off grass without the need to use a lot of expensive concentrate feed.
Can you tell me little more about the history of the breed?
The Lincoln Red is a breed with ancient origins, it is one of the oldest of the UK's native breeds. The Lincoln Red is a polled animal, well fleshed with a deep cherry-red coat, a wide muzzle and well placed legs, ideally suited to a range of conditions. They were originally a dual-purpose breed, making them an excellent easy calving suckler cow.
How many cattle do you now have in your herd?
At present I've around 80 head of cattle in the herd which includes calves, stock bulls etc.
What numbers do you plan to get up to in your herd?
I have 20 in calf heifers to calve this year which will bring the herd to calving just under 50, but the plan is to push this to 100 calving within 2 – 3 years.
What do you plan to do with this year's calves?
90% of the heifer calves will be kept for future breeding then I'll only keep 1 or 2 bull calves to keep and sell for breeding.
You show your Lincoln Reds, what do you look for in a show animal?
Personally, I look for shape! The breed has come on so much in the past 20 years and at the end of the day it's what the butcher wants! I like a dark red colour to them especially in the bulls and I like there tail to be set properly, a nice straight back from the tail to the shoulders. But most importantly shows itself off well!
Edward winning Overall Champion Lincoln Red with his 2yr old heifer at Rutland Show 2018.
What is involved in your show preparation?
Show prep starts in January with cattle being halter trained and slowly start to increase feed. My first show is the beginning of May at Newark so throughout march and April cattle are clipped and washed to get the coat looking its best. Once at the show we use numerous things to make the cattle stand out... I'll have to leave that bit a secret!!
Why do you feel showing is important for you and your herd?
I feel showing is very important for my herd. It shows off what you've got at home and hopefully generates sales, a red rosette always stands out in a sale catalogue! It's also important to educate the public on farming and agricultural shows are a fantastic way of doing that.
Edward meeting Prince Charles at Louth Livestock Market, which was featured in Hello! magazine.
What is your favourite thing about Lincoln Reds?
I'd say their quietness, you can walk upto them in a field and they won't run off!
What are the toughest challenges you have faced so far being a young farmer?
The toughest thing I'd say is the cost of everything I.e. land, machinery, feed etc, if you weren’t brought up into farming it's very difficult to get going, I've been lucky that there's a lot of grazing land available to rent locally but with cattle it’s a long wait before you see any real income … I'm waiting for that £100,000 bull to come along!
What advice would you give someone looking to get involved with Lincoln Red cattle?
Start with something good! Even if you can only afford one, buy quality not quantity. If you buy rubbish you'll always have rubbish so start as you mean to go on. Personally, they are a very affordable breed to get involved with, you don’t have to spend thousands to buy something good. The society's members are a great bunch and will make you feel very welcome.
A BIG thank you to Edward for showing me around his family farm and giving me the chance to meet his herd of cattle. If you would like the chance to find out more about Edward's herd 'Holegate Lincoln Reds and Limousins' you can follow updates on Facebook.
I am Izzi, farmer’s daughter and textile designer at IzziRainey. If I am not designing or sewing you will find me out in the farmyard with my cattle. I am constantly seeking inspiration for my prints, not that I have to look very far. Growing up on the farm, I have always been influenced by my surroundings and this combined with my passion for farming is what inspires my designs. I love spending time on the farm but I also enjoy learning about other people’s animals, passions and stories, which are also influential to my design process. I hope you enjoy reading ‘Over the Farm Gate’