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  • Writer's picturelucietrapp

Five things you didn't know about British Agriculture

On the 4th August 2022 you'll find social media filled with farmers celebrating Farm 24. A 24 hour take over to show the general public the behind the scenes of farming. If you follow the #farm24 on Facebook and/or Instagram you're bound to find lots of pictures of farms across the country. The initiative is sponsored by Farmers Guardian and Morrisons and is a great event to be a part of!

  1. The UK has the highest animal welfare standards in the world.

Even supermarket meat and dairy is under strict guidelines which ensure that animals are well cared for and go outside for a minimum number of days. The number is constantly rising resulting in a large number of animals in the UK being out of grass for over half of their life!

Grass fed ewes and lambs at home at Lucie's Lambs

2. 64% of the UK is farmland.

Of this 25% is arable- cereals, fruit and veg and the other 75% is mixed but predominately grasslands.

The most common crops grown are wheat, barley,oats, oilseed rape, sugar beet and potatoes. We harvest around 2 million hectares of wheat a year and 5.5 million tonnes of potatoes.

There are 21.8 million sheep and lambs in the UK, predominately farmed for meat although milk and wool have small markets too.

There are 9.4 million cattle in the UK, kept for dairy and beef.

There are 4.8 million pigs in the UK for pork production

3. There are 91 different breeds of sheep kept in the UK

The sheep sector is very varied depending on where you are in the country.

In the North you have more primative breeds crossed with a terminal sire to make a better carcass. Further south you'll find a lot of commerical breeds such as a Texel or Suffolk which will fatten quickly for the supermarket. But farmers also keep rare breeds if they work in their system.

While the south is considered a milder climate than the North, we still have strong winds and it can be cold- income the Southdowns from the South Downs in Sussex and the Romney from the Romney Marsh in Kent. Both breeds of sheep are hardy, small and thrive on poor grassland. We have Romneys as all our land is on steep slopes and they seem to thrive on this. I have seen our sheep dig at the snow to get to the grass underneath.

Romney ewe and lamb from Lucie's Lambs

4. Agriculture sequests more carbon than it emits

As the move to grass fed meat and drought resistant grassland has increased the quantity of carbon captured into the soil far outweighs the amount emitted. Many farmers now work with the animals eat 1/3, trample 1/3 and leave 1/3. Leaving grass cover ensures that the ground always has a root structure allowing water to be absorbed instead of running down the road. It also means that carbon is able to be stored in the soil and the microbiomes in the soil are able to flourish. Happy animals and happy soils! The happier the soil the better crop you get above the surface!

Weaned lambs eating a diverse grass mix. Photo credits Sophie Callahan

5. 28% of the agricultural workforce is female and growing all the time

International women's day has done wonders for getting women into industries which were traditionally men. While its very common for there to be women on livestock farms there are still few women working on arable farms and harvesting the crops we rely on. It's unclear why this is, but slowly over the last few years there has been more and more women joining the harvest teams!

I for one am very proud to be a women in farming and am grateful for the opportunities I have had since I started in agriculture aged 16. While sexism does still happen there are less and less issues and this can only be a positive!

Me wearing my Beaumont and Bear x Doodling Lucy T-shirt which raises money for Yellow Wellies, a farm safety charity

I hope you found these 5 facts interesting and hope you enjoy the fun and celebrations of Farm 24 over on Facebook and Instagram! You can follow my instagram @lucies_lambs to find out what I get up to!

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