A hobby that became a full-time business for a first generation farmer from the Grantham area is enjoying glittering success.
Shepherdess Sophie Arlott is the founder and manager of Lavinton Lamb in the village of Lenton.
She has just won silver for runner-up in the new entrants’ category of the British Farming Awards 2015.
The judges heard her business began as a hobby with Sophie looking after a few pedigree Southdowns. Now she runs 200 ewes including Southdowns, Hebrideans, Lleyns, Cheviots and Romneys. She has secured her own customer base and supplies her brand of Lavinton Lamb to six Michelin-star restaurants, local customers and online, commanding premium prices.
She said: “It is very rewarding to be recognised by the farming industry.
“Thanks to my family, friends and farmers and of course all the chefs who have supported me and helped make my dream become a reality.”
The obstacles never really seem like problems, they are just part of the job.Sophie Arlott, shepherdess
She added: “The obstacles never really seem like problems, they are just part of the job - in my opinion the best job in the world.”
Sophie farms her flock across a predominantly grass-based system, performance-recording them to increase value within the commercial market.
With support and knowledge from other farmers, she has learned to balance different breeds, enabling her to sell all-year-round, and she has learned to utilise all cuts to produce burgers, sausages, BBQ packs and marinated cheaper cuts.
Despite nearly losing all her flock to snow a few years ago, she recovered with the help of a local farmer who offered her his sheds, and she is now in her fourth year of business.
Sophie, who manages 43 hectares of land, said: “I look after my flock with the help of a shepherd who has 50 years’ worth of knowledge.
“I take them to the local, family-run abattoir myself and am passionate about what I do.”
She is now developing her own lamb cross to achieve a three-way hybrid vigour, which she believes will be exclusive to the brand and will help open new markets to further help secure her future.”
The British Farming Awards, now in their third year, highlight the determination and tenacity of British farmers in ever-changing and challenging conditions and climates.