FW Awards 2009: Livestock Adviser of the Year finalist – David Hendy

Going on farm is a vocation for beef and sheep consultant, David Hendy. Having been involved in every aspect of the beef and sheep industry for the whole of his working life, David used his experience to start his own business as an independent beef and sheep consultant five years ago.

Working as a one-man band, he has about 100 clients, with the aim of expanding to 150 clients.

David’s main ethos is sustaining farm profitability through minimising costs and maximising profitability, driven by home produced feeds.

Over the last few years, David’s service had become more in demand. “Farmers need to reduce costs and get more of a handle on costs/kg,” he says.

“It is essential to have a clear understanding of the client’s business plan, production and management system and farm marketing potential.”

David has wide experience with marketing groups and was key in setting up the Waitrose Aberdeen-Angus group and has previously worked with Blade Farming. However, recently he has moved away from marketing groups.

“There are too many people taking money out along the marketing chain. The key is to create a sustainable business on farm.”

And at the heart of this is nutrition and rumen management. “Rumen management is at the core of my business. The rumen is the one area you can control. If you get this right, other factors fall into place. And feed rationing does not have to be complicated.”

Because David works alone, one of his main challenges is the wide area he covers. “I cover everything below the M62, so I have to pay close attention to cost-control.”

To account for this, visits are organised around visiting enclaves of farms in the same area.

“Although this creates challenges, it also comes with the added benefit of allowing me to keep up-to-date on factors affecting different areas of the country,” he says.

David’s confidence in his business is shown by his attitude towards contracts. “I request payment up front for the year, with the guarantee, if they are not satisfied by what we have achieved in the first year, I will pay back the money.”

And there is no doubt the confidence he has is shared by his clients, some of which he has been working with for 15 years.

His success has meant he has never had to actively market himself, relying on word of mouth. This in itself has proved fruitful, to such an extent that David is having to turn potential clients away. “The added interest is obviously excellent, but it is disappointing that I am turning people away.

“I have reached a cross roads in my business – in order to expand I will have to consider taking on another person.”

This is something that will need a lot of thought, he says. “Taking on another pair of hands will change the emphasis on the business and remove a certain amount of control.

“The trouble is, I have built up a personal service with a sound client base. I will need to choose someone with the same mentality and passion for the industry so I maintain the same service to the farmer.”

Knowledge transfer is something close to David’s heart. “I am strongly involved in farmer meetings, giving talks on a range of topics, from reducing costs in suckler herds to dry cow management and fertility.”

“On farm, I also ensure all workers are aware of the key aims and objectives. All staff have my number so they can come direct to me with any questions, and I talk all workers through the basics of rumen function and management.”

Business facts

  • Rumen management and simple nutrition
  • Emphasis on reducing costs through use of home-grown forages
  • Personal service
  • Money back guarantee in first year

What the judges liked

  • David is thoroughly committed to the beef and sheep industries and this is shown in his wide client base and number of long-standing clients.

Three achievements

  • Wide experience within industry
  • Extensive client base with a number of long standing clients
  • Focus on keeping nutrition as uncomplicated as possible


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