John Tims

From a conventional farmer to an organic regenerative one

John's mission

John’s mission is to create a viable sustainable farm and business for his children and grandchildren to continue. One that provides nutrient dense food for you and for future generations, while nurturing healthy soils and restoring the countryside for more wildlife and biodiversity.

John's dairy beginnings and struggles

 John started as a conventional dairy farmer, following in the footsteps of his father. He was milking up to 160 cows twice a day. In the changing dairy industry, one of the regulations he faced was milk quota, which used to allow each dairy farm to produce a set amount of milk into the food chain, based on their quota. They had to be purchased and thus formed a large investment. This regulated the quantity of milk for the demand.

But then, milk quotas were scrapped, which affected them deeply financially, as it did most dairy farms. The dairy market opened for global food trade. The contract that a farmer had to secure with a milk processor or supermarket was incredibly difficult to change but the processors could announce a price cut whenever they wanted. From then on, the milk price was about production volume – yet the more farmers were producing, the cheaper the milk got per litre when they sold it, as it does in any economy of supply and demand. But farmers had to increase production to cover their increasing costs.

It became a vicious cycle. John didn’t like that animal welfare came second after milk production. He was forced to drive the animals to their maximum performance of milk yields, whatever the cost to their health, happiness, and welfare.

When he could no longer keep up with the cycle of increased milk production, he had to get out. He was facing a bankruptcy.


Journey to organic and purely grass fed

 After the difficult experiences of animal and land welfare and well-being, John decided to go organic. Plus, he didn’t like stuffing his cattle with mixed feed that seemed to contain all sorts of feedstuff he wasn’t supportive of – like soya and grain. He wished to treat the cattle as close to natural as possible, so they were not fed anything other than hay and fermented hay (silage). John implemented a fully 100% grass fed system.

He came across mob grazing and created his own system of moving the cattle in a herd every day to fresh grass. He saw how happy the animals were when they had a fresh piece of pasture and how they looked forward to seeing him.

Into regenerating a piece of countryside

When John met Radka, they worked together to improve the grazing system to improve the health of the animals and the land. There are now 2 herds, and both are moved daily to a fresh piece of pasture between April and October. During the non-growing season, both herds are housed in large airy barns, bedded with straw, and fed hay and silage (fermented grass).

This way is improving the pastures and allows their regeneration. Each year John learns more about his land and the action of his animals upon it, and how he can utilize it for the benefit of all.

Ready to support John in his work?

The amount of feed and fertilizers per 1 beef animal

As a calf, it is fed 100 kg of feed in a creep feeder:
60 kg barley
14 kg soya
23.5 kg sugar beet

growing steer (for 100 days) ratio:
350 kg barley
30 kg rapeseed

finishing steer (for 80 days)
600 kg barley

TOTAL feed per steer:
1010 kg barley
30 kg rapeseed
14 kg soya
23.5 kg sugar beet

Source: AHDB

Pesticide figure based on yearly application of pesticides on barley in 2018 (based on application to 0.17 ha that would produce 1 tonne of barley):

spring and winter barley were mixed in equal ratio for simplicity.
Pesticides in spring barley:
157.5 g
Pesticides in winter barley:
307.5 g

TOTAL 465 g of pesticides = to litres it is about 465 ml of pesticides per year.

Source: Pesticides usage survey 284 for arable crops in the United Kingdom 2018 (National Statistics)

Fertilizer figure (based on application to 0.17 ha that would produce 1 tonne of barley):
nitrogen: 24.14 kg
phosphate: 4.59 kg
potash: 5.95 kg
sulfur: 5.95 kg

TOTAL 40.63 kg of fertilizers

Source: British survey of fertilizer practice for 2018 (DEFRA)