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Investing in dairy improvements

Published: 16th March 2021

A multi-generational estate has used AMC funding to buy land, take let farms in hand on the retirement of tenants, restore their woods and build a substantial farming business.

Sclater Estates Ltd is a 2,500 acre, multi-generational estate in Sussex, with land in the parishes of Newick, Barcombe, Chailey and Isfield. The Estate comprises around 1,750 acres of farmland, 700 acres of woodland and 50 acres of buildings, houses, gardens, tracks and scrubland.

The Sclater family and AMC have worked together for well over fifty years. During this period AMC has helped the family to buy land, to take let farms in hand on the retirement of tenants, to restore their woods and to build a substantial farming business. In recent years the family have used AMC funding for several investments in the core dairy enterprise, including the conversion of redundant farm buildings into two small dwellings at Double Barns for occupation by staff.

Person observing cows in a pen

Investing in the future

The Estates’ existing dairy herds at Beaks Farm in Barcombe and High House Farm in Chailey produce around four million litres of milk per year. This latest funding from AMC has enabled the Estate to invest in a new dairy unit at Double Barns Farm in Newick. The unit includes housing for 300 cows and a hi-tech milking parlour. As part of the Estates’ ongoing commitment to reduce its carbon output, the new facility also incorporates variable flow milk pumps, heat recovery units and other state-of-the-art features in order to lessen the farm’s reliance on purchased energy.

The new addition will make the Estate one of the region’s leading suppliers to Europe’s largest milk co-operative ARLA, with an annual production of between six and seven million litres per annum.

Three new jobs have also been created at Double Barns Farm as part of the venture, taking the Estate’s total number of employees to 15 full and part time staff, plus several contractors. The business expects its annual turnover to be about £3 million following the investment in the new dairy unit.

Ruth Wallis, Estate Manager, Sclater Estates said: “The investment in our new dairy unit represents an important milestone in the development of our farm, and forms part of our ongoing journey to be a leader in responsible, regenerative and ethical farming.

“Our existing two milking units were close to capacity, and we’d have struggled to grow without this third site. We simply wouldn’t have been able to carry through this venture without the support of AMC. The new state-of-the-art facility will not only allow us to increase capacity and efficiency, but it also has a positive environmental impact.”

Securing funding to build

AMC has also recently provided funding for the conversion of a fine 18th century barn into a Christmas Shop at Gipps Farm, as well as the construction of a brand new barn for the Estate’s Christmas tree business, and has supported the Estate in its ongoing programme for investing close to £1 million in growing and selling Christmas trees.

As part of its wider sustainability agenda, the Estate’s ambition is to sell high-quality, fresh trees, with very low ‘tree miles’ – meaning they are grown and sold locally. The Estate uses minimal nutrients and pesticides on its Christmas tree fields, in order to encourage plants and wildflowers to grow in abundance, and this is beneficial to a variety of wildlife from bees and insects to birds and small mammals.

Jon Drew, Regional Agricultural Manager for the South East, said: “The UK is one of the leading milk-producing nations in the world, and sustainable farming methods have never been more important. Double Barns Farm is blessed with light and sandy soils, which are ideal for early entry to spring grazing of cows as well as later return to winter housing. This is a key factor in animal welfare, and this helps the farm to produce milk and animals to an exceptional quality.

“Supporting ambitious land-based projects like Double Barns Farm as they grow and innovate is part of AMC’s DNA. We are working with farms right across the country, providing long-term lending to help implement more sustainable business models and operations and to pursue clean growth opportunities.”

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