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Heather Hall and her Vario
We’re improving our own flock using AI and the new tractor and machinery are giving us more time to do this.
Heather Hall, contractor, breeding ewes and suckler herd, England - Fendt 312, 516 Vario, Fendt Slicer, Fendt Former
We’re improving our own flock using AI and the new tractor and machinery are giving us more time to do this.

Contracting ambitions for young livestock farmer

Following an investment in a new Fendt 516 Vario, young farmer Heather Hall is looking to supplement her home farm work by starting a contracting business

The youngest of three, Heather is planning to go into partnership with her father Robert at Sherholt Lodge Farm, in Staffordshire, to help manage the farm’s flock of 300 breeding ewes and suckler herd. However, her ambitions have taken the farm further by investing in new Fendt tractors and equipment with a plan to start a grassland contracting business.

“We want to be less reliant on contractors, but also see an opportunity to work with neighbouring farms to help them with their grassland harvest. This has coincided with the need for new machinery on the farm, so my father and I chose to invest because it gives me the option of taking on local contracting work if it becomes available,” she explains.
Heathers Vario with the two Slicer models
The farm has run a Fendt 312 Vario since 2017 when it was purchased new from B&B Tractors. Heather has since had experience of contracting with Fendt tractors in Ireland, where she has become accustomed to the versatility of the range.
“I wanted a versatile tractor that we could run for upwards of ten years. Our experience with B&B and the 312 has been very good so the 516 was the obvious step up,” she says.

The 516 has 169 horsepower and, crucially for Heather, a front PTO. This has enabled her and Robert to invest in Fendt Slicer dual mowers for the first time which has significantly increased their potential to cover more grassland. The farm has also operated a Fendt Former dual rotor rake since 2017 to enable them to gather the green harvest faster.
“The 312 model has kept its value so well that we felt a further investment in a Fendt would be a safe option. Purchasing the 516 has made us much more self-reliant. We now only use a local baling contractor and this has helped us hit the mowing windows and improve our forage quality and quantity,” she says.

The first cut of 2023 was a good one for the farm, following the reseeding of multiple leys to provide thicker leafier grass. It was the first year using the dual mowers and Heather found the 516 swept through the cut well.
Fendt 516 Vario mowing with Slicer models
“It covers the ground much more cleanly and quickly than our previous mower. The mowers are gear driven and the conditioner reduces drying times, which is especially helpful in the leys we have introduced clover to. The adjustment is also easy and we were given support setting up the 516 and the mowers by B&B, so everything has come together well,” she says.

The right equipment opens new doors

With her confidence growing, Heather can see a need for the tractor and equipment to be utilised locally. She is now considering making the most of the tractor’s GPS and RTK to work more efficiently and is also getting to grips with the new FendtONE cab.

“Having more functionality on the joystick, a bigger screen with easier to access functions and presets makes the FendtONE system much better than the older operating system we have on the 312. We are starting to learn about the GPS functionality and that will help should we take on work on other farms,” she explains.

With the ability to travel at 55 km/h on the road, the 516 will enable her to travel to farms beyond her neighbours. However, Heather’s passion is still for the home farm.

“We have 300 ewes with an even split of Texels and North Country Mules. We also have a herd of 20 Limousin cattle with 25 youngstock and a pedigree Limousin bull. I’m the fourth generation here and I really want to focus on making our 218 acres work well, but I can see the opportunity for contracting because the tractors and equipment that we have now will be beneficial to others too,” she says.
The 312 Vario is equipped with a Fendt Cargo loader to help with feeding and bedding in the livestock shed, and also in the fields, handling bales. With 135 horsepower it is a good all-round machine that can also pull a power harrow. However, with the addition of the larger 516, Heather and Robert have found two machines that complement each other well.

“The 516 with the dual Slicer mowers is followed by the 312 tedding and then either can be used to rake. We may invest in a baler in the future to complete the machinery needed to be entirely self-sufficient. We have neighbouring dairy farms and finding labour is getting harder so I can see a gap for our equipment to help them initially,” she says.
Heather was more focussed on animal health growing up but took to tractor operating after graduating Reaseheath College. She took on 5 months contracting work in Ireland to better prepare herself for work at home and has experience of operating a wide variety of Fendts.

“We’re improving our own flock using AI and the new tractor and machinery are giving us more time to do this. Investing in our own farm has shown me what we could be doing for others and, as we intend to keep the 516 for 10 years and the 312 for at least another 5 years, we can look to maximise our investment both on our own farm and through contracting,” she concludes.