Essex: Two farmers send hay lifeline to Northumberland hill farmer

Foulness Island farmer Roger Burroughs, left, and Rob Stacey from West Hanningfield

Foulness Island farmer Roger Burroughs, left, and Rob Stacey from West Hanningfield - Credit: Archant

Two Essex farmers have sent a lifeline to a Northumberland hill farmer, hard hit by severe weather in the run up to lambing.

Former National Farmers’ Union (NFU) county chairman Robert Stacey from West Hanningfield and Roger Burroughs, who farms on Foulness Island, donated 27 tonnes of hay for farmer Rob Dyson, just days before his supplies were due to run out. The hay arrived on the farm yesterday (Thursday 25 April).

Rob Dyson, who farms a very remote spot at the heart of the Coquet Valley, contacted the NFU when it became clear he would run out of fodder for his 450 sheep and 25 cattle.

“The harsh winter, which has seen our sheep facing snow, freezing temperatures and biting winds at a very vulnerable time in the run-up to lambing, has meant providing them with a lot of extra feed,” he said.

“After Easter it became clear I did not have enough fodder to get them through to the point where spring grass is finally beginning to emerge so I spoke to the NFU to see if they could help.”

Rob and Roger had already offered to send hay to help hill farmers, after hearing about their plight. Together they made up a load of 72 ‘hesston’ bales weighing 27 tonnes and worth more than £1500. A haulier they have regular contact with from Launceston in Cornwall, TR Doidge, offered to provide haulage at cost and these costs are being met by farming charity the Addington Fund.

The load left the east coast at 3.30am yesterday and completed the 353-mile journey in seven hours.

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Roger Burroughs said he was more than happy to make the donation having had a long association with the livestock sector.

“Although we are all arable now, we used to have sheep and cattle, so when Robert Stacey contacted me to suggest making the donation, I was delighted to be involved.

“I know how hard livestock farming can be and obviously we’ve all seen how tough this winter has been on the hills. I was more than happy to match his contribution and make up the 27-tonne load.

“I’ve spoken to Rob Dyson and so know it is going to a good home. Our aim here is to help a fellow farmer in what is clearly a very difficult situation and encourage others to follow suit.”

Receiving the load, Rob faced a difficult challenge getting the hay up to the farm as his road cannot accommodate an articulated lorry. But he says, with just two bales left, it arrived just in the nick of time.

“I am hugely grateful to everyone involved in this operation – obviously Roger and Robert, but also the hauliers, Addington Fund and the NFU. Together they have made this possible, and it really will make all the difference for me as I am now in the thick of lambing. It has been a sterling effort,” he said.

NFU East Anglia regional director Pamela Forbes said this was a classic example of how the farming industry pulls together in times of adversity.

“It is great to see such a positive outcome from what was a dire situation. The NFU is very grateful to everyone who has responded to our appeals for fodder and haulage sponsorship,” she said.

The NFU is also running a ‘Fodder Bank’ facility on its website: This provides a free listing for anyone wanting to buy or sell fodder.