Farmer John Earp
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Our Farm

For nearly 100 years the Earp family bred British Friesians and managed a traditional dairy herd farm. In 2002 with the advent of falling milk prices, John Earp courageously and successfully diversified the farm business and became one of a handful of specialist dairy goat farmers in the UK.

John Earp and Goats

Goats

The most important part of the farm are the goats. A playful gang, they are all bred from the best of three British breeds: Saanen, Toggenburg and Alpines. Goats are very affectionate, intelligent animals, endearing and inquisitive. Four times a year we rear groups of kids, caring lovingly for them from a few days old until they reach their playful 'teenage' stage at around eight weeks. They flourish together with their friends, living and playing in small groups, growing up in their 'teen' accommodation until they are nine months old. Sometimes we sell goats at this age, known as 'goatlings' on to other goat farms.



For their own well-being, the adult goats live in specially designed buildings which offer abudant natural daylight and fresh air. They are fed a nutritionally balanced fibre-rich diet based on maize that we grow.

Well fed, contented goats reward us with delicious, mild-flavoured milk. We milk over 600 adult goats twice a day - in the early morning and mid-afternoon. Our milk is sold to St Helen's, for use in their goats' butter and cheese.

Link to the St Helen's website...




We also have a small pedigree herd of hard working male, Billy goats. We are often asked why Billy goats smell like old socks. It's because they have musk glands behind their horns to make the girls chase them!

 

Milk Lorry Leaves the Farm
Two Billy Goats

Cattle

We rear a handful of Simmental beef cattle: We buy a small herd of approximately 15 cattle from a local herd at age 12 months. We sell them on to market at age 20-24 months. The cattle have a wonderfully peaceful life, living outdoors on grassland with the high quality goat food supplement as well. The cattle are housed indoors in one of the barns from October. Simmental's are renowned for their high fertility, an outstanding docile nature, hardiness, good mothering ability, and milk.

Sheep

We buy 150 hardy Mule sheep annually from the Hawes Sheep Sale, the largest sheep sale in the country. The sheep are ewe lambs, aged about 6 months old and they come off the moors and travel down to Leicestershire. We keep the sheep for a year and then sell them in August at Bicester Sheep Fair, where they are sold as theaves.
Two Black Rock Hens

Hens

Like many farms we keep a flock of hens to provide wonderful fresh eggs. The Black Rock hens have rich plumage which protects them from all weather conditions; they love the outside, come rain, snow or shine. Their appearance is magnificent; the green shine from black feathers in the sun is magic, set off with the chestnut feathering around the neck. Black Rock chickens are docile but full of character. The hens are persistent and steady layers, with some birds reported still laying at 8 years old and living to 12!


The South East of England was noted for its chickens - Old Sussex, Kentish, Surrey and Dorking. Sussex are a dual purpose breed with good, moist, white meat and good layers. Sussex Hens are bright, active, docile birds. The birds have a long, broad and flat back and a broad, deep chest. The head has a single comb. Legs are short and strong with stout thighs. They are good sitters but do not go broody as often as more heavily feathered breeds. As layers, they are very good, producing up to 260 eggs a year and equalled only by the Rhode Island Red.

 

 

 

Our brown hens are hybrids - a cross between the Light Sussex and the Brown Leghorn. The brown hybrids are smaller birds than the Sussex's and the Black Rock's. They are affectionate, friendly hens and lay brown eggs in good supply.

 

 

 

 

 

This gorgeous black and white flecked hen is a Cuckoo Maran. The Maran breed was developed in the early 20th century, named after the town in France where they originate. They are famous for their dark brown eggs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dad to the Osbaston brood is Hector, a magnificent Light Sussex cockerel. This English heavy breed has been around since the turn of the century.

Old Sussex Chicken
Brown Hen
A Maran Hen
Hector, our Light Sussex Cockerel
Wheat Field, with tents in background

Wheat

We grow approximately 70 acres of feed wheat every year. We sell the crop on for animal feed and we use the straw from the wheat for animal bedding. 70 acres of wheat feed makes nearly 300 big square bales.

 

Maize

Maize

In the United Kingdom maize is grown for silage unlike in warmer drier countries where it is grown for grain. Maize is a domesticated form of wild grass, first cultivated over 5,000 years ago in tropical Mexico that produces an adaptable and productive grain. We grow 75 acres of maize on the farm and this will feed the goats for 12 months. Livestock like the palatable silage and it also produces much less effluent than grass.

Badger

Wildlife

The farm attracts badgers, foxes, rabbits and hares.

 

A Luxury Barn Owl Box

Birdlife

We have 5 acres of ground purely dedicated to wild bird cover, actively support birdlife, and are members of the RSPB Volunteer & Farmer Alliance. We have several species on the farm which fall into the 'of high conservation concern' category: linnet, reed bunting, skylark, song thrush and yellowhammer. We have around 30 nesting boxes as well as a number of luxury barn owl 'houses' located on the farm land. Buzzards, hawks, tawny and barn owls are all resident on the farm and the graceful swallows return home to us every year to breed. We also have game birds, pheasant and partridge, on the farm.

 
 
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