Fermanagh farmer looking to the future with calf-rearing investment
A Co Fermanagh beef farmer has diversified his business in order to secure a sustainable future for his three sons.
Lisnavoe Farm, near Rosslea, has been in business for more than 65 years.
John Egerton owns the 74-hectare farm, working with his wife and three sons, William, Samuel and Robert.
He has invested in a new standalone calf-rearing house as part of a blade farming deal with Irish meat giant ABP.
The deal means that Lisnavoe Farm rears calves for 12 weeks and receives a management fee plus bonuses for rearing calves to the highest standards.
It is expected Lisnavoe Farm will rear 450 calves in its first year of the contract.
Mr Egerton made the investment with the backing of Ulster Bank.
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Blade farming is described as an "innovative calf rearing model" that ensures maximum calf growth rates while minimising health challenges.
Peter O'Hara, business development manager at Ulster Bank, said: "We're committed to the local agri-food industry and to supporting producers and farmers such as John and Lisnavoe Farm.
"We're very pleased to back the investment and enable Lisnavoe Farm to capitalise on new opportunities.
"John is an extremely driven businessman, committed to building solid foundations for the future of the business.
"The investment in the calf-rearing shed, which paved the way for the securing of a sought-after rearing contract, is one of many examples of how he has continually reinvested in the farm to diversify its interests."
Mr Egerton explained that the investment and contract had resulted in a significant boost for the business.
"Turnover at Lisnavoe Farm is substantially improved and the model ensures a steady and stable income," he said.
The farmer added that the investment is part of plans to hand over the business to his sons.
"All three of my sons, William, Samuel and Robert, want to farm. It's a family business I also inherited from my father," he said.
"By introducing calf rearing, which is a completely new area for us, we're setting out a plan for a farming business with three distinct areas of focus for each take responsibility of and develop further."
Two of Mr Egerton's sons work on the farm, one full-time and the other part-time.
His third son is involved in farming in Scotland.
"We're investing now to make the business sustainable for all three sons and to bring them all back to the home farm full-time," he said.
In recent weeks Mr Egerton won the Beef Innovator of the Year prize at the British Farming Awards.