Northumberland as an Agricultural Hub

Northumberland has very few dairy farmers. The farmers are confined to the south regions of the county, mainly due to the low-lying areas. According to DEFRA, dairy farming in Northumberland has seen a fall and will continue to do so in the future. Prior to the fall in dairy farming, dairy farmers were mostly present in the Penines hills region with a relatively low herd size or around 50. These farms however, have ceased to exist. There may be a number of reasons as to why the dairy farmers in the county are shutting down the farms, one of which may be due to the costs associated with collecting milk. Historically, the companies that collected milk from the farmers were collecting milk twice daily. The switch from twice to once meant that the farmers needed larger storage tanks for milk. This is a relatively large cost and may be one of the reasons for the decline in dairy farmers in the county. Considering the fact that most of the county is used for farming with sheep and cattle, there may also have been difficulties in finding good labour for the milk farmers.

Northumberland has a large number of beef and sheep farmers, which account for almost three quarters of the total land used. Beef and sheep farming are mostly linked together as both compliment the grazing patterns in the upland regions of the area. A greater proportion of the livestock used for grazing in lowland areas are beef cattle. Cattle grazing is known to change the structure of the grasslands where they graze, which is in turn beneficial for other species of animals, which in this case, are the sheep. Northumberland seems to be seeing a slight decrease in the number of sheep, however, they do not seem to be significantly decreasing. Sheep are considered to be the majority, when it comes to the livestock that are present in Northumberland. The decreases in the number of sheep were primarily due to the outbreak of diseases such as foot and mouth disease in 2007, and also due to the changes in subsidy payments by the government.

The Northumberland coastal strip is primarily used for arable farming, which has since lead to the decrease in the grasslands. This has however, slowed down over the years since 1999. Due to the losses in grasslands, sheep number showed a decrease between the years 2000 to 2009. The Northumberland Sandstone Hills and The Cheviot Hills are areas where livestock grazing takes place, mainly due to the characteristics of the area. The Cheviot Hills have high barren landscape features that are suitable for livestock farming. The Cheviot Hills are used for both sheep and beef, with the sheep being in the majority. Forests in the area are exclusive to livestock farming as well. The sheep that are used in the national park are known to be the herder breeds like the Black face and Swaledales. The process of hefting, which is basically breeding the herder breeds to their bit of hill, is a fairly common process in the region, which enables the ewe to know her patch and stick to it.

4 Comments Add yours

  1. billy says:

    y do u have baby lambs on a dairy cattle website

    1. Alim says:

      “Northumberland has a large number of beef and sheep farmers”

  2. What photography equipment do you use? The images you have complement the content extremely well

    1. Alim says:

      I use a Canon 6D full-frame DSLR

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