D Howard’s Hare Farm is a working sheep farm and beautiful wildlife haven where both thrive together, boasting uninterrupted views of the Brede Valley near Rye in Kent. Dating back to medieval times, Hare farm sensitively celebrates England’s rural past.
The 500-acre unit is managed by owner and 4th generation farmer, Stuart Howard, who is responsible for the sheep flock of 1000 head of North Country Mules sourced from the North of England sales and Suffolk x Mules all put to the Suffolk Ram.
Stuart commented “the Suffolk Rams are purchased from one flock which enables us to produce good skinned, fast growing Suffolk x lambs.”
One hundred acres of the farm is down to grass leys on an arable rotation that is carried out by a neighbouring farmer, this allows new pasture to be used in the sheep enterprise and enables stocking rates on these grass leys to significantly increase whilst also giving health benefits to the flock by giving the land a break from the sheep. The permanent pastures are low input areas, especially the marshlands either side of the River Brede, with minimal fertiliser and grazing.
The winter feeding is based on sheep going away on keep and the flock returning to the holding for lambing inside fed on hay and concentrates, with a lambing percentage of 195%, Stuart Howard said “our lambing percentage is due to the ewes being flushed on grass seed leys in the early autumn”.
The aim of the sheep enterprise is to target the store lamb and breeding sales at Ashford Mart. Stuart Howard commented “the Suffolk is perfect for producing fast growing consistent store lambs which are sold at Ashford, also the Suffolk x Mule ewe lambs are sought after as this is a popular cross in the Southeast and also attracts buyers from all over the UK to Ashford.
Elwyn Davies of Ashford Mart said, “we have seen an increase in demand both for Suffolk x Mule ewe lambs and store lambs at Ashford where we hold regular sales in the autumn, also our early prime lamb sales contain numerous Suffolk x lambs which are sold to a premium.”
The farm sells all the lambs by early autumn as the unit becomes short of grass in a dry time, the Suffolk x suits this enterprise perfectly as they are fast growing and meet the requirements of the store lamb buyer as they put on weight quickly.
Stuart Howard went on to say, “the Suffolk x Mule breeding ewe has become more popular in recent years as they do not depreciate like other breeds and with the correct management can achieve a high lambing percentage and produce top quality prime lambs when crossed with any terminal sire.”Stuart Howard
The farm has holiday accommodation in the form of Oast Houses, Shepherds Hut and a Glamping site and lambing courses are also run on the farm in the spring. The course covers the full lambing cycle (from tupping to weaning), sheep care, common problems and all the everyday tasks of the lambing shed. Participants should experience live births on the course (as long as the ewes lamb to plan).
For more information on the Farm enterprise please visit the website