Farmers Weekly Awards 2021: Farm Innovator of the Year

Tim White, Maiden Bradley, Warminster, Wiltshire

When it comes to innovation in agriculture, inventing a new breed of sheep is up there with the best.

Tim White and a small group of progressive sheep breeders created the Exlana as a low-input, low-labour, wool-shedding maternal breed.

Using genetics, they directly addressed the most important issues facing the sheep industry – namely labour shortage and drench resistance; the wool shedding and outdoor lambing qualities of the Exlana minimises the labour input needed to manage a flock and selecting for parasite resistance reduces treatments with chemical drenches.

Selecting for welfare

Selecting for short tails cuts out the need for docking.

Tim believes future industry lamb welfare practices will be governed by consumer wishes for welfare-friendly and low chemical input husbandry.

“Low mutilation rates will be part of these standards, as an industry we need to be preparing ourselves for this now,’’ he says.

He even avoids tail docking in all but about 20 of his Charollais ewes, replacing this with better selection for low dag scores and low faecal egg counts.

Grazing

In his business, Tim is making the most out of low-value grazings and his relationships with his landlords with his flexible approach to flock size to suit the land he has available on short-term lets.

He challenges the archetypical image of an innovator – he is not someone with lots of high-tech equipment as his system is run with a basic set of mobile yards, a no-frills weigh-crate, an EID reader and a microscope. 

It is clear that his success as an innovator comes from what is in his mind, and how he approaches and solves problems, not fancy kit.

Five things that make Tim White 2021’s Farm Innovator of the Year

  1. Incredible depth of knowledge on selection for wool shedding and worm resistance
  2. Unconventional approach to land tenure
  3. Understands the genetics that make a sheep able to cope with a worm challenge and has applied this to the breeding programme
  4. Has given the industry a breed that takes much of the work out of sheep farming
  5. Helped to market breeding Exlanas in a pandemic by combining a live auction with internet bidding. 

Our other finalists were:

  • Huw and Meinir Jones, Bryn Farm, Cardigan, Ceredigion
  • Stephen Briggs, Whitehill Farm, Cambridgeshire

Read about the finalists

Co-opThe Farmers Weekly 2021 Farm Innovator of the Year Award is sponsored by Co-op

“For the third year running, the Co-op is extremely proud to sponsor the Farm Innovator of the Year Award. It is truly fantastic to see the incredible developments happening in British agriculture. A huge congratulations to our 2021 winner Tim White.”

Caroline Mason, head of agriculture                                        

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