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Blenheim Estate partners with Rappa Fencing to transform its sheep farming practices

We have partnered with Rappa Fencing as part of a major upgrade of our sheep farming facilities.

Mobile electric fencing will replace our 2,000-acre estate’s wooden fences, as we introduce mob grazing, a more sustainable way to manage our 1,000 strong flock of Scotch Mule and Cheviot sheep.

Due to the number of sheep we have here and the fact that electric fencing will enable us to move to more sustainable practices, we needed to invest in equipment to help speed up work on the fencing, the most labour intensive aspect of mob grazing.

The practice emulates how animals flock and feed in the wild, helping to enrich the soil quality - part of our land strategy plan that looks at innovative ways to move towards more sustainable farming practices. This is one of a range of measures being introduced to support our ambition to deliver carbon negative land management within 10 years.

Pedigree Hampshire Down rams were introduced into our Estate in September 2022, as we look to diversify our livestock using native breeds that support our commitment to organic produce.

Our sheep lamb later than many farms because they are reared entirely on grass within the parkland, keeping them as naturally healthy as possible. We allow our sheep to give birth outdoors, in order to give the lambs the best spring grass and nutrients they need, making it vitally important that they remain safe and protected from interference from dogs. When our lambing season commenced after Easter, we made renewed calls to help protect the lambs and urged walkers to keep their dogs on leads as part of our annual Thank Ewe campaign.

As the landscape opens up to more sustainable and traditional farming practices, shepherds on our Estate will use an all-terrain vehicle (ATV) equipped with an auto fencing machine from Hampshire-based Rappa to establish terrain for mob grazing, which involves the sheep being regularly moved to different areas of the park.

“We took the decision to do away with all the old permanent fencing and instead use a mobile system which allows us to be much more flexible,” said our Shepherd, Tom Locke.

“Due to the number of sheep we have here and the fact that electric fencing will enable us to move to more sustainable practices, we needed to invest in equipment to help speed up work on the fencing, the most labour intensive aspect of mob grazing.

"The Rappa ATV Winder has made picking up and putting down fences twice as quick as before as everything is so user friendly and close to hand while you are doing the job. The kit is very robust, British made and a cost-effective way of giving our shepherds more time to focus on looking after the sheep. It ticked all the boxes for me and the work I would be using it for."

Nick Cockayne from Rappa said: “Our system is tried and tested by sheep farmers around the UK and has proved its worth as a reliable and efficient way of keeping sheep safely grazing in different areas of land. It is designed to cope with a wide variety of terrains to offer maximum flexibility, and working with the Blenheim Estate team, we were able to supply equipment that will meet their exacting requirements and help them adapt to their new farming practices with ease.”

Rappa has led the world in mechanised electric fencing for 40 years, developing its original fencing machine into a complete range for everyone from smallholders to large multi-acre farms.

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