WHAT THE JUDGES SAY
“Bertie has taken on a lot of responsibility and understands his business to the last detail. Alongside this, he is involved in the local community and keen on engaging with the public.”
Bertie Newman has full responsibility for the management and everyday running of an agricultural business spread across 607ha in blocks around Dorchester in Dorset.
The organic farming system includes suckler beef, sheep, dairy beef and contracting, and Bertie has ambitions to expand this in the near future.
He has made multiple changes to the livestock enterprises since taking over control two years ago, and is driven by a desire to improve efficiencies and resistance to running at a deficit. In addition, he has resolved to learn more about agriculture’s environmental implications and how carbon accounting fits in with future farm policy.
Bertie completed an advanced technical extended diploma in agriculture at Sparsholt College before working on several farms in New Zealand and Australia for six months.
He returned to the 28ha family farm in 2014 and set up a suckler herd of 35 cows of his own when he was 19. In 2017, the family bought the 132ha Manor Farm and Bertie became a partner in the business alongside his parents, bringing his cattle with him.
As well as Manor Farm, the business rents about 475ha in blocks on various grazing licences and farm business tenancies.
In 2018, Bertie took on sole management of the total 607ha when his father started running a dairy cattle business belonging to Bertie’s grandfather, who had become ill.
With the cattle, he has replaced purebred Angus with dairy cross Angus to improve early life nutrition and moved from year-round calving to autumn and spring blocks.
The main aim with the sheep is to reduce the ewe overheads, and make lamb production more efficient by producing the same number of lambs from fewer ewes.
Though, historically, the business only sold lamb deadweight, Bertie is now selling some live as stores, which has made the business more flexible, and allows the team to react faster to the market.
He also introduced two new enterprises: contracting and dairy-origin beef. These were specifically chosen to make use of the available resources and to improve cashflow. In autumn 2019, he set up a TB isolation unit.
25 Years old
1 Full-time staff
1 Part-time staff
132ha Land owned
475ha Land rented
In five years’ time, Bertie hopes to be selling 500 of 1,000 cattle each year, as well as selling 1,200 lambs a year from fewer ewes.
He plans to move to spring block-calving only and to have more detailed recording of data, alongside working with precision livestock trading and analytics tool Breedr to optimise the system.
Though he enjoys working with his staff, he finds managing people challenging and intends to take a business management course to learn new techniques.
Bertie also aims to focus on better marketing of organic grass-fed beef and lobbying organic groups to share the message of the product’s quality.
Already used to low stocking rates with his organic system, he is keen to work on reducing the business’s carbon footprint while keeping it as productive as possible.
“I’m happy to plant trees if that’s going to pay me more than grazing, but it has to pay its way; I can’t just do it for fun,” he says.
“If BPS disappeared completely, it would be hard for a year or two, but I could do it and I think it could open up some land and opportunities for other farmers. The key is making work whatever best suits your farm.”