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End of an era as Tuddenham hay and straw farmer John Kendall hangs up his pitchfork

PUBLISHED: 11:29 08 May 2017 | UPDATED: 11:29 08 May 2017

19/04/17
John Kendall is retiring from his straw and hay business in Tuddenham St Mary after 50 years.

19/04/17 John Kendall is retiring from his straw and hay business in Tuddenham St Mary after 50 years.

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Farmer John Kendall is a familiar sight across East Anglia and the UK, having spent 50 years delivering straw and hay to his network of customers, from dairy and pig farmers, to stable owners.

19/04/17
John Kendall is retiring from his straw and hay business in Tuddenham St Mary after 50 years. 19/04/17 John Kendall is retiring from his straw and hay business in Tuddenham St Mary after 50 years.

But now aged 68, he is set to hang up his pitchfork and enjoy a well-earned retirement - although he will keep his hand in with a few local deliveries, and farming his 180 acres at Tuddenham and 54 acres at Hockwold in Norfolk.

Based at Tuddenham St Mary, near Bury St Edmunds, J D Kendall Ltd criss-crosses the country, serving customers in Wales, Ross-on-Wye, Cheshire, Gloucestershire and Staffordshire.

Closer to home, John has provided hay for the Newmarket stud stables, housing some of the world’s top racing horses, since he started the business a half-century ago, as well as local pig farmers. But on Friday, May 5, he will be selling up his equipment from 10.30am at the farm. The sale will be handled by auctioneer Mike Alexander of Brown & Co, who will be putting transportation vehicles, trailers, teleporters and other hay and straw equipment under the hammer as the business reaches the end of an era.

It will no doubt be a day of mixed emotions for John, but with no children to carry on the family business, and as he is still fit enough to enjoy sports such as horse riding and skiing, he felt the time was right to call it a day.

19/04/17
John Kendall is retiring from his straw and hay business in Tuddenham St Mary after 50 years. 19/04/17 John Kendall is retiring from his straw and hay business in Tuddenham St Mary after 50 years.

“Some of them will be disappointed we won’t be doing it any more, but like everything, it comes to an end,” he says. “I’ve enjoyed it. I have met a lot of people.”

The farm will continue though - he rents out land to an outdoor pig contractor, so he’ll still provide him with straw and deliver to some local stables.

There are different types of straw and hay, each of which are suitable for different customers. Wheat straw normally goes to Newmarket for horse bedding, or hay for eating, barley straw is good for the pig farms, although some horses will take it, and dairy farms prefer barley straw for bedding and eating. Oat straw can make good cattle feed. At harvest time he will buy 500 to 600 acres of straw behind the combine, to bale up and store. At one time he grew lucerne as well. On his trips, John will often be invited in for a cup of tea and a chat with the farmer - one or two of his customers have been with him for 50 years, since he started aged 18. “I’m quite proud of that,” he says.

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