Farming Today – by Kevin Prince

Baa, humbug when it comes to sheep!!

Many of us are accustomed to seeing sheep in our landscape but how many also appreciate that sheep helped create that landscape?

Britain was largely wooded and early settlers were responsible for creating the first fields, but not on their own. They needed assistance to keep former woodlands from their dominance. That help came from sheep. Our landscape didn’t happen by accident.

Sheep brought prosperity while helping maintain the cleared lands by nibbling down regrowth that would have seen the trees re-establish. The rolling downs we now accept as the English landscape were populated not only by sheep but also by people who grew wealthy off the backs of their animals. The wool they harvested from sheep was much-prized in the middle ages until the Spanish improved the wool quality of their breeds and ours fell out of favour. The money for the wool paid for abbeys, cathedrals, churches, and grand houses which we now regard as our heritage.

The sheep you see today are much different from the animals familiar 700 or 800 years ago. With the drop in wool’s value, a new source of income was found as sheep breeds were gradually altered to increase carcase size and meat quality. This came at the expense of wool and as most sheep farmers will tell you it now costs more to shear a sheep for its welfare than is obtained for the fleece. And that comes before the expense of transporting the worthless fleece to the British Wool Marketing Board depot where all are combined, sold, and an average price paid to producers.

Some farmers with fleeces prized by spinners, knitters, and weavers have exemption from the legal obligation to send all their wool to the BWMB and can gain real value from their fleeces, and therefore their sheep, by direct sales to private buyers.

Sheep, if they could talk, would probably have a little joke at our expense about how wool’s value has changed, something like don’t eat the hand that feeds you! Many sheep farmers will tell you that their animals have only one ambition, and that’s to die – even better if they can do it twice! But contrary to belief, sheep are not stupid. They can, for instance, remember human faces for up to two years so be careful what you do on that country walk!

Sheep, and their wool, have excellent value to us humans going forward. Some of the more primitive breeds, the Jacob, Shetland, Hebridean, and Manx Loaghtan for instance, are now opening up valued conservation areas, clearing away unwanted and rough vegetation so rare plants and habitats can flourish.

Wool is grown by sheep because it keeps them warm, it’s a great insulator. With that in mind, some want it used as a natural insulation product for our homes. It can also be ploughed in as a fertiliser. It’s all better than the woolly thinking that sees its value diminished.

If you want to know more about sheep, John Lewis-Stemple, a nature writer of magical style and also from a family who have kept sheep for hundreds of years, has written a marvellous new book, The Sheep’s Tale. It’s thin on page count, thick on information. Just right for a winter holiday read!

Adkin Seminar – 17 October – **PRESENTATION SLIDES NOW AVAILABLE**

We held a seminar on TUESDAY 17TH October at the LOYD LINDSAY ROOMS, ARDINGTON to discuss topical matters including;

  • Farmland Market Update
  • Residential Update
  • Environmental Opportunities
  • Sustainable Farming Incentive





All Levels of Experience Considered

Due to an increasing workload and new management instructions, Adkin have opportunities to join the team in our highly respected firm. We are open to applications from those recently qualified or perhaps part way through their training but are also very interested in those with more experience.

Excellent career prospects are available with an opportunity to progress within the company and move towards taking equity in due course. This is a great chance to develop your career and be key in shaping the future of a dynamic and driven company.

Based in the attractive village of Ardington in Oxfordshire, our dedicated team offer an array of services including agricultural, commercial and residential disciplines, and therefore a wide variety of work and clients is attained. The position will offer a mix of both professional and Estate Management work.

Many of our clients have been with us for generations, something we are very proud of, and a testament to the reputation and expertise of the firm and our ability to move with the times.  We work for a diverse range of clients with interesting and demanding requirements and whilst the majority are based in central southern England, we increasingly act for landowners nationwide.

Role requirements

  • Member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors ideally with Registered Valuer status or working towards the APC is preferable but not essential.
  • Fellowship of the Central Association of Agricultural Valuers is preferable but not essential and we would be very willing to support those looking to gain this qualification.
  • Motivated and driven.
  • Ability to shape your role within the company.
  • A competitive salary and benefits package.
  • Flexible working considered.

Please send applications with your CV to:

Mrs Kerry Holbrook-Bull MRICS FAAV

If you wish to call to discuss the position in the first instance, please contact Kerry on 07557 470520 or by the e-mail address above.

All applications and enquiries will be treated in strictest confidence.

Renters (Reform) Bill 2023

The Renters (Reform) Bill was introduced into Parliament for its 2nd reading on 17th May 2023 by Michael Gove as Minister for the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities. This is the stage at which the bill is debated before progressing to the Committee stage and so on until it becomes law. According to the government the intention is that the bill will deliver a “fairer, more secure, and higher quality private rented sector for both tenants and landlords”.

Major changes relevant to residential landlords include the proposal to abolish section 21 ‘no-fault’ evictions which is the current preferred and most timely route for gaining possession of a let residential property. The reasoning behind this change is so that tenants will feel empowered to challenge landlords over poor housing conditions without the fear of eviction.

Other significant changes include the abolition of AST or fixed term tenancies, making periodic tenancies (ie. month to month) as standard and prohibiting the inclusion of rent review clauses in tenancy agreements. Instead, a statutory regime will apply so that rent cannot be increased more frequently than once a year and on two months’ notice. The tenant may either accept this or challenge it at tribunal.

Although the bill does not introduce the ‘Decent Homes Standard’ currently applicable to the social sector it does introduce a private sector rental database or “property portal” with the provision for compulsory membership of a landlord redress scheme or Ombudsman to help avoid disputes going to court. The Ombudsman will have powers to compel landlords to remedy issues and a right to impose fines of up to £25,000 for non-compliance.

Although primarily strengthening tenant rights, the bill amends several section 8 grounds for possession, including introducing a wider range of provisions that a court or Ombudsman should consider around anti-social behaviour. It also clarifies other grounds for eviction including for repeated rent arrears, the sale of the property or for its use for agricultural workers or close relatives.

The private rented sector has seen unprecedented growth in recent years with an estimated 11 million private renters and 2.3 million landlords in England. The intention of the reform bill is to ensure that tenants not only have a greater degree of protection and home security, but that rental standards are upheld. The government, however, must be careful not to go too far in disincentivising landlords in the private rented sector in order to ensure a continued supply of much needed good quality rental homes.

Agency Review 2022/2023

A war in Europe, domestic interest rates rising by a factor of 14 (yes 14!) and a cost of living crisis where inflation threatened to run at over 10% should, by conventional wisdom, surely mean we are reporting that the property markets crashed, or at least slowed considerably, last year and predicting a gloomy forecast for 2023/2024?

In fact, 2022 proved to be one of our busiest and most successful agency years ever. During the 12 months from January to December 2022 we completed on £140 million of property sales and already have a healthy pipeline under offer in the first quarter of 2023.

You can read the full report here: Agency Review 2022-23

If you own rural property, whether it is residential, farmland or strategic development land and you are looking for totally independent advice combined with exceptional service, then please do not hesitate to contact us by phone 01235 862 888 or email