Farmer Graham Proctor lives in Tiverton, Devon and rears lamb for Tesco. Here, he tells us about life on his farm.
Have you always wanted to be a farmer?
I've lived in Devon all my life and have strong memories of wanting to be a farmer from a very young age. By the time I was 11 years old, I’d saved up enough money to buy my very first lamb. Not coming from a farming family, I persuaded our next-door neighbour to let me keep her in his field and the rest, as they say, is history. Farming isn’t easy, we’re on site seven days a week feeding, bedding and lambing, but it’s immensely satisfying and I feel really privileged that I get to work outside all day – I can’t imagine doing any other job.
What type of lamb do you farm?
I breed Dorset lamb for Tesco on my farm in Tiverton. Dorset sheep are a traditional native breed that can lamb at any time of the year. Thanks to its mild southern winters and rolling green hills, Devon is the perfect place for rearing this breed and we have a very content flock. We care for 750 Dorset ewes and have 450 acres of land to accommodate them.
How do you ensure your sheep are well looked after?
Our spring lambs are born in December. About seven to 10 days before the ewes lamb we move them into sheds so we can keep a close eye on them. Sheep are maternal creatures so we keep them in individual pens to allow them time to bond with their new lambs. During this period, we check on them regularly, day and night, to make sure that they’re milking and feeding properly. After just 10 days, the ewes and their lambs are ready to be put out in the field. As our sheep are free-grazing, we keep them in groups of about 60 and regularly move them from field to field to ensure they have access to plenty of fresh, good-quality grass. During this early stage of life, the lambs are fed mainly on a diet of their mother’s milk with a small amount of grass. The ewes need a little bit extra when they’re milking, so we supplement their diet with hay and cereals. This is particularly important during the chilly winter months.
How can customers be reassured that Tesco lamb is of high quality?
Buying British lamb is your guarantee of quality and origin. As a Farm Assured supplier to Tesco, we’re independently inspected to ensure that all our lamb is produced to the highest standards, and I’m extremely proud of the great job we do. We’re also signed up to the Countryside Stewardship Scheme, which helps to preserve the natural environment.