The annual Silver Pintail award presentation evening was held this year at Harts Barn Cookery School, Longhope. Jenny Phelps, FWAG Senior adviser and Gloucestershire team leader, started the evening by welcoming everyone and updating us on the range of work happening across Gloucestershire, highlighting ways that farmers can get involved and benefit from various projects.

Next, we were treated to a fascinating talk by David Priddis, a leading authority and founder member of the Gloucestershire Bat Group. David touched on the impacts of natural and man-made changes to a bats environment, did you know that the length of a bats pregnancy can be influenced by the weather and availability of food?

David Priddis - Gloucestershire Bat Group

Our Silver Pintail judges then talked us through each of the competition finalists, highlighting exceptional work being carried out to improve habitats for wildlife alongside commercial farming enterprises. Richard Appleton, Robert Jackson and Robin Nicol took great pleasure in visiting each of the finalists’ farms to find out more before making the tough decision as to who to crown the winner.

Will and Sarah Thorogood, Woodleaze Farm, Horsley, Stroud
Will and Sarah are the 6th generation at Woodleaze Farm, a mixed farm focusing on rearing beef cattle and growing cereals. The judges were particularly interested in their field margin management, providing valuable habitats for wildlife- the farm has 27 of the 59 British butterfly species recorded on it. 

Sarah and Will encourage groups to visit the farm and also host Police training days in countryside issues. Work is ongoing to restore a traditional Cotswold orchard alongside old stone barns and the original Cotswold water troughs. 


Left: a traditional trough restored to working order. Right: Legume fallows

Grazing Management, The Hudnalls, St Briavels
Grazing management are farming in a very non traditional way, offering ‘hoof powered’ nature restoration with native breeds of cattle, sheep and goats grazing often inaccessible areas.

The judges learnt about the use of NoFence geocollars on cattle to graze unfenced sites, helping landowners to manage conservation areas and increase biodiversity.  They have developed strategic partnerships with Severn Trent and Wye Valley National Landscape amongst others, helping to restore heathland, lowland bog and wildflower meadows. 


 Left: Bagot Goats Right: Gallows with NoFence geocollars grazing a riverside meadow. 

Chris North (ARC Farming Ltd), Ruddle Court, Newnham-on-Severn
This 240 ha organic grassland farm is home to 350 dairy cows, producing milk on a New Zealand style grazing system. Chris is investing in solar panels and recycles water from the plate cooler to wash down the parlour.

There is a strong emphasis on hedgerow management with an impressive network of field boundaries which are particularly important for horseshoe bats. Recently planted hedges are establishing well as are the traditional fruit trees added to the exiting orchard. 


Left: Dry cows on extensive grazing on high ground Right: one of the more recently planted hedges on the farm

After much deliberation the judges awarded the Silver Pintail trophy to Chris North! We look forward to Chris hosting a farm walk later in the year at Ruddle Court. 

Winner Chris North receiving his trophy from our Silver Pintail judges Richard Appleton, Richard Jackson and Robin Nicol.

Congratulations to all our finalists, a very enjoyable and informative evening.