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Award shortlist spot for farmer
A WEST Dorset farmer has been shortlisted for an award which recognises the UK Worker of the Year.
Single mother Judi James, from Littlebredy, set up her own RSPCA Freedom Foods veal production unit alongside working as a farm assistant.
The 53-year-old said: “I’m stunned and surprised to be in the final eight of this competition. It’s a really exciting time in my life.”
Judi’s business has been up and running for just over a year and she has around 100 calves, which she rears until they are eight months old.
She said: “We don’t dehorn or castrate them, so it’s incredibly natural. But I’d far rather they were a little pampered, rather than pulled away from their mothers and kept in crates.”
It was concern for the welfare of bull calves which created the spark for the business.
Judi, who runs the farm single-handedly with help from her 13-year-old son, said: “It also needed to be something quite small-scale, something I could do without the need for machinery.
“To begin with, I sold my house and invested the money into property. Then we started the business with just a field and we’ve been slowly building it up ever since.”
She added: “Farmers don’t want to have to shoot their bull calves but often there’s no alternative.
“They could be sent to market, but at a week old that is an incredibly stressful experience for them.
“That’s where I come in.”
Judi buys the animals from farms in Bride Valley, Martinstown and Broadmayne, and rears them until they are sold for meat at eight months.
She said : “You hear horror stories of calves reared for meat and kept in crates, but ours are in fields, with their own hutches for shelter.”
Judi added: “I also work on a farm with John Barker, and I could not have done any of this without him.
“It’s just fantastic.”
The fourth annual award recognises excellence in the British workforce.
Maurice Morton, sales and marketing director for event sponsors Dickies, said: “The standard of entries has been outstanding this year, so much so that we had to go with eight finalists instead of the usual six.”
The award is also sponsored by Suzuki GB.
The winner will be decided by audience vote at a gala evening in Reading on October 18.
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