Farm Smart: YouTube Star Cowley Hill Farm Innovating with Modern Farming Practices and Flockwatch to Improve Efficiency
| Apr 17, 2023
Will Roobottom is a farmer from Staffordshire who comes from a family that has been farming for over 10 generations. The primary enterprise on the 500-acre Cowley Hill Farm is producing hay and haylage for the equine world. However, Will has also developed a flock of pedigree Lleyn ewes over the past 9 years, which currently stands at 240 breeding ewes.
The farm follows an A flock/B flock system, with the A flock producing pedigree Lleyns and the B flock crossing to an aberblack to produce finished lambs. Will continually looks to grow the Lleyn flock by breeding his own replacements.
Farming practices are crucial to the success of the business, and Will believes in continually innovating with modern practices to improve efficiency.
“I feel as though continually innovating the business with modern practices are crucial in improving efficiency.”
Recently, the sheep enterprise has invested in a grazing system and weighing and recording equipment, including Flockwatch, to ensure the flock’s performance is recorded accurately. Investing in weighing and recording equipment makes things easier and more efficient when meeting their goals. There are plans for further expansion as the demand for fodder and sheep increases.
“Performance recording is crucial for the future of our pedigree flock especially when selling breeding stock.”
Will’s advice to other farmers is to invest in quality over quantity, which has been the key to the farm’s success.
Establishing himself as a YouTube creator
During the lockdown, Will started his YouTube channel Cowley Hill Farm with the aim of showing every aspect of the farm at home, not just the good parts. The channel started slowly, but it has grown over time, currently with 6,000 subscribers and 40-80k views per month. The audience comes from all around the world, including America, Australia, Canada, Netherlands, Ireland and the UK.
The biggest pros of having a YouTube channel are the doors it has opened for Will, allowing him to visit other farms and meet new people. It has also boosted his confidence, which was low before starting the channel. The biggest wins for Will are the messages he receives from younger people, saying he has helped them with farming or getting into farming.
The only con is that editing videos in the evening can be time-consuming. However, YouTube has not got in the way of farming too badly.
Will’s plans for the future of his YouTube channel are to keep growing it and maybe, one day, be able to come back and work on the farm full time. With the added income from YouTube, he hopes to make this happen.
Improving Flock Management with Flockwatch
Will has been using Flockwatch by Herdwatch since its inception and has been able to save so much time previously wasted on paperwork especially with his YouTube commitments taking up much of his day. He first learned about Flockwatch through an advertisement and was impressed by how user-friendly it was.
“I found out about Flockwatch through seeing an ad pop up and once I read about how it all works. It was a no brainer to give it a go.”
Will uses the Tru-test XRS2 EID reader along with Flockwatch, which he finds simple to use. Adding his sheep to the app was a breeze – he simply scanned them in and now uses smart groups to quickly record all the necessary details.
From a breeding standpoint, Will records DLWG, bloodlines, and any issues in Flockwatch. He then analyzes this information to select replacement ewe lambs and rams. Flockwatch has streamlined this process, making it easier for him to make informed flock decisions and improve performance.
During lambing season, Will uses Flockwatch to document all lambing events, making it a breeze to record parentage without having to deal with piles of paperwork, especially when working with pedigree livestock.
” Using Flockwatch at lambing time has made it so easy to record our lambs parentage without masses of paper. Especially with pedigree stock and breeding to improve their performance it has been life changing.”
Similarly, Will uses the app to record weights, purchase medicines, and document treatments, making the process simpler and more efficient.
“I have recommend the app to every sheep farmer I know! The biggest benefit of Flockwatch for me is being able to have all your information needed in your back pocket ready to use at any given time.”
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