Young farmer adds revenue stream to family farm with deer herd

24-year-old Rebecca Williams has added further earnings to the family farm with a venison manufacturing enterprise.

She launched deer to the farm close to Builth Wells in mid-Wales in January 2020, and there at the moment are 80-plus hinds, run as two herds.

She needed to seize a health-conscious client in search of one thing totally different, and venison was a rising in recognition due to its leanness.

See additionally: What does it value to arrange a deer enterprise?

Business inspiration

This enthusiasm to discover a new revenue stream was partly sparked by Rebecca’s participation in Farmers Weekly’s Farmers Apprentice competitors in 2020 – an expertise which she calls “life-changing”.

“It actually made me step out of my consolation zone and realise change is essential. I additionally got here again from it very a lot conscious of the adage: ‘Nothing enterprise, nothing gained.’

“When you’re organising a brand new enterprise – particularly one the place the up-front prices are excessive, as they’re with deer – you don’t do it on a whim, however you’ve got to settle for there will probably be all the time be some unknowns.”

“I needed to do one thing that felt like mine and was new, reasonably than a bolt-on to one thing we already did,” says 24-year-old Rebecca Williams.

“My dad’s been good at encouraging and serving to me, as a result of he is aware of the significance of the subsequent era having the ability to put their very own stamp on a farm,” she adds. “His dad did the identical with him.”

Costs and market

Her plan is to promote the animals to Dalehead Foods, which takes cattle from the farm, plus supply some domestically through a meat field scheme.

The first deer calves – which the family stored for a 12 months earlier than placing them to the stag – value £250 a head, with the animals anticipated to be prepared for slaughter at about 18 months. 

Fencing was an enormous expense – they put up about 6km at a price that equated to about £14/m in at the moment’s costs, a determine that will have been a lot greater had they not achieved many of the work themselves. 

The deer enterprise, she says, dovetails properly with different enterprises. They’ll be calving on the finish of May and into June, which is after lambing and the busy time when the cows are calving.

“The deer keep outdoors all 12 months and might prosper on fairly slim pickings when it comes to grass.

“Generally, they’re fairly low upkeep and this is without doubt one of the causes we opted to do that. I really like farming, nevertheless it’s essential to have a life off the farm as properly.”

Marketing will probably be key to Rebecca’s enterprise plans.

Aware of this, she’s not too long ago been accepted for a spot on the Farming Connect Management Exchange programme run by Business Wales – a possibility she’ll use to be taught extra in regards to the subject.

“As farmers, all of us have to make ourselves ‘saleable’. Farmers have to promote themselves to their patrons, meat processors want to promote themselves to the supermarkets, and supermarkets want to promote themselves to the general public.”


© Rebecca Williams

Never cease studying

Taking half in Farmers Apprentice was, she says, essential in constructing this self-confidence, in addition to her ambition. 

“It actually put gasoline in my engine and made me need to strive new issues.

“One of the judges, Robert Neill, suggested us to take each alternative that’s introduced to you, and that’s precisely what I’ve tried to do. You can by no means cease studying.”

Part of Rebecca’s willpower to expose herself to new conditions has been prompted by her lack of a proper agricultural training.

She’d initially deliberate to grow to be an artwork instructor and even began an artwork diploma in Carmarthen.

“I dropped out of that, although, which made my confidence crash, however doing the Apprentice was the kick-start that made me realise how sturdy you could be in case you have to be.

“The extra individuals I’ve met, the extra I’ve learnt that the world is, on the entire, full of excellent individuals and also you don’t want to be frightened of it.

“I’ve learnt rather a lot about myself and the way my mind works over the previous couple of years. I’ve concluded I’m fairly listener as a result of I like to determine conditions out and assume issues by earlier than I act.

“That stated, I’m an over-thinker and I’m generally too self-critical.

“Sometimes I nonetheless have to drive myself to have self-belief, and so I intentionally put myself in conditions the place I’m uncomfortable as a result of I do know that teaches me to cope with tough conditions higher.”

When she returned from Carmarthen, all the pieces fell into place. “Working outside and with my arms is de facto good for my bodily well being and for my head.

“I really like my family and the place I’m from, however I additionally need to be me, reasonably than simply my father’s daughter. I’ve acquired some very massive boots to fill although!

“I need to make my mark on the bottom that has been in my family since 1904, and make them and myself proud.” 

Dealing with stress

Rebecca says one in all her priorities has all the time been making time to have a break and do different issues – whether or not that’s socialising with mates or taking journeys into city on the weekend.

“Seeing individuals is de facto essential, however farmers don’t all the time do that sufficient. I do know, after I come again after spending only a few hours off the farm, I’ll have a look at issues barely in another way and do a greater job,” she says.

“There is certainly quite a lot of stress related with a brand new enterprise, and deer can actually be anxious. I’ll always remember the night time a small group of them acquired out.

“It was horrible however, terrible as conditions like which are on the time, they train you you could deal with them and also you’re extra in a position to deal with different anxious conditions sooner or later.”

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