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For the Brown&Co Agricultural Business Consultancy (ABC) department, September is the time for the annual department study tour. This year, the team, now some 35 strong and one of the largest teams in the UK, made the trip to the rolling countryside of Northumberland, visiting three farms over two days, and also stopping in to see the ancient Chillingham Cattle herd, for a lesson in conservation and history.


We must say a big thank you to all of our hosts who opened their farm gates to us, giving us an insight into each of the individual challenges and opportunities they have faced over the years. (Although each business was different, one of the underlying take a ways from the two days was that maximising the potential of the resources that you have is critical for farm business success.)


Our first visit was to the Nellis brothers at Thistleyhaugh Farm, who gave us a masterclass in livestock and grazing management, and an explanation of how their focus on genetics and data has enabled them to strive for ever higher returns, measured on a pounds per hectare basis.


Next, we stopped at Lindisfarne Oysters at Ross Farm. Our host, Christopher Sutherland, gave us a fascinating description of the unusual challenges he faces from the sea, and showed us how business planning, and investment in processing facilities has allowed him to continue to supply an ever-growing demand for his Oysters.


Continuing with the theme of investment, our final working farm visit was to Aidensfield Research Farm, where farm manager and owner Conor Colgan, took us round his purpose built, state of the art cattle facility. With the help of grant funding, Conor has invested in cattle management technology and equipment, that not only allows him to better manage his own herd, but also opens up the opportunity for alternative and additional income streams from businesses or institutions requiring a place to undertake research programmes.


All in all, it was a fantastic couple of days. Thanks again to our hosts, and we look forward to whatever next year’s trip might bring.