Day in the life of a Kentish livestock farmer

PUBLISHED: 13:05 30 April 2018 | UPDATED: 13:05 30 April 2018

Day in the life of a livestock farmer (photo: Manu Palomeque)

Day in the life of a livestock farmer (photo: Manu Palomeque)

Manu Palomeque 07977074797

Chris Bishop on following his dream after retiring from the very different world of accountancy

Name: Christopher David Bishop

Job title: Livestock farmer

Based: Cranbrook

Lamb (photo: Manu Palomeque)Lamb (photo: Manu Palomeque)

Tell us about you

I run our business, C.D. and J Bishop, with my wife Judy. It is a livestock farm and we breed sheep and cattle.

Chris refreshing the hay (photo: Manu Palomeque)Chris refreshing the hay (photo: Manu Palomeque)

I came into farming late – it is a second career and something about which I am passionate. I originally trained as a chartered accountant with a firm in London and, after qualifying, joined my father’s practice in Hastings where I worked for about six years before returning to London.

Throughout this period both Judy and I loved the countryside and I was involved in various country pursuits. When I retired from Ernst and Young as a Partner we were able to fulfil a long-held ambition and dream and buy a farm. That was in 1995.

Day in the life of a livestock farmer (photo: Manu Palomeque)Day in the life of a livestock farmer (photo: Manu Palomeque)

Any training?

I didn’t have any formal training as such, but we had so many friends in the farming industry that I was never short of mentors. We had socialised with them a great deal over the years and the conversation invariably centred on farming; consequently we had the opportunity to learn a surprising amount. When we got the farm our farming friends were always on hand and willing to give advice and help. This was an enormous benefit.

A dazed newborn lamb (photo: Manu Palomeque)A dazed newborn lamb (photo: Manu Palomeque)

Tell us about the farm

We farm 230 acres on the High Weald at Cranbrook in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It’s stunning. The soil is mostly Wealden clay, which inevitably has some draining problems, although we are aided by the fact that our land is all on a hill. I might add that the views are utterly superb!

We have 320 ewes, mostly Suffolk x Mules, but we also have a small number of Herdwicks. In addition to the sheep we have a herd of pedigree Sussex cattle. The stock lives indoors in the winter and we also lamb under cover.

Sheep at Chris' farm (photo: Manu Palomeque)Sheep at Chris' farm (photo: Manu Palomeque)

All our livestock is farm-assured under the Red Tractor scheme and the cattle are registered in a High Health scheme. We take environmental responsibilities very seriously and, although we are not officially designated organic by the Soil Association, we are the very next best thing. We use very little fertiliser but the nature of the soil demands we use some; we haven’t sprayed for more than three years.

A typical working day?

Newborns (photo: Manu Palomeque)Newborns (photo: Manu Palomeque)

I am always about by 7.30am. About two years ago I had a serious illness, since when I have handed over some of the day-to-day routine to staff. Emily Salter and Colin Shand are both from highly respected farming backgrounds and share most of the work between them, which operates very well. Husbandry standards are very important to all of us and I inspect the stock every day, a task I really enjoy.

How do you market?

Lambing (photo: Manu Palomeque)Lambing (photo: Manu Palomeque)

We are incredibly fortunate to sell all our lamb and beef to E.C. Wilkes and Sons, based in Cranbrook. They are among the very best butchers in Kent and it is very important to us that we are able to sell all our stock locally.

Day in the life of a livestock farmer (photo: Manu Palomeque)Day in the life of a livestock farmer (photo: Manu Palomeque)

Any famous clients?

Because we don’t actually market direct to consumers, I don’t really know. The quality of the meat encourages customers from a wide geographic area – I am sure this includes some famous names!

Lambs' bottles (photo: Manu Palomeque)Lambs' bottles (photo: Manu Palomeque)

Any children following in your footsteps?

We have four children but only one, Simon, is so far interested in farming. He combines a full-time job with running his own small farm at Heathfield.

Marks out of 10?

I love every single moment, as does Judy. We count ourselves very, very fortunate to be in the farming industry in the beautiful county of Kent. I have no hesitation in awarding a 10!

Get in touch

C.D and J Bishop, Spratsbourne Farmhouse, Goudhurst Road, Cranbrook TN17 2PY

01580 713854 or 07860 568815 (visits strictly by appointment only)

More from People

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

We spoke to six of Kent’s leading business people about how they have kept going through the coronavirus

Read more
Tuesday, June 23, 2020

We caught up with Will Edge, founder and distiller at Greensand Ridge Distillery to see how he has been coping during lockdown

Read more
Tuesday, June 23, 2020

We spoke with the MD of Whiting and Hammond to see how he has been coping during lockdown

Read more
Tuesday, June 23, 2020

We spoke with baker and cookery school owner Jane Beedle to see how she has been coping during lockdown

Read more
Tuesday, June 23, 2020

We spoke with cookery writer and chef Alex Hollywood to see how she has been coping during lockdown

Read more
Tuesday, June 23, 2020

We spoke with the director of Romney Marsh Wools and Shepherd’s Huts to see how she has been coping during lockdown

Read more
Tuesday, June 23, 2020

We spoke with the Deputy CEO of Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce to see how he has been coping during lockdown

Read more
Monday, June 22, 2020

So, your wedding plans have been spoiled by COVID-19, and it has left you in the dark as to what to do next. Michelle King, from London Golf Club, shares her advice on how to come to terms with the postponement of your wedding, and what you can do about re-booking.

Read more

A scream pierced the foggy night, then all was silent, save for the sound of scurrying footsteps. Murder had been committed. Dare you read on?

Read more

Pets are proving a lifesaver for many, providing companionship and consistency in uncertain times, as these Kent Life readers reveal

Read more
Kent Life Food & Drink awards. Open for entries.

Latest Competitions & Offers

Subscribe or buy a mag today


subscription ad


Follow us on Twitter


Like us on Facebook


Local Business Directory

Search For a Car In Your Area

Most Read

Latest from the Kent Life