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Mulgrave Estate

Shortwaite Farm

Meet our Tenants

Chris & Colin Foster, Shortwaite Farm

The Foster family have been at Shortwaite Farm since 1927 and have been long running tenants ever since. Colin Foster has recently passed the day to day running of the farm to his son Chris who runs it as a commercial business enterprise.

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Shortwaite is mainly a dairy farm which has around 220 milking cows, 160 dairy heifers, 70 beef cattle and 40 acres of cereals. The Fosters also have also recently taken a tenancy from the Estate at Westonby Farm and hold the grazing rights on nearby Westonby Moor. The family are now farming in excess of 500 acres, making them ones of the Estate's biggest farming enterprises. They breed pedigree Holstein cattle which calve in autumn and have elite accredited health status. Any excess livestock are sold on to farmers as breeding cattle. The dairy herd produces over 2 million litres of milk per year which is sold to Fresh Pastures Community Interest Company (CIC). A proportion of the profit that the CIC makes is put into local community projects. Shortwaite’s milk goes to inner city schools in West Yorkshire.

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‘It’s quite satisfying to know where our milk goes to’ says Chris. ‘The calving pattern fits in well with the CIC’s needs as our cattle calve in autumn and the milk then goes to the schools after the summer holidays’.

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Since 2010, Shortwaite has seen numerous improvements. A new milking parlour has been installed which milks 40 cows at a time and saves an enormous amount of time and effort. Milking 220 cows now only takes 2 hours rather than 5 since the new parlour was installed.

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Chris adds ‘the Mulgrave Estate have been very supportive in our move to expand the business and Lord Normanby is very proud to be supporting the next generation of farmers on the Estate. They have assisted with planning permissions with the National Park Authority and with measures to eliminate any water quality issues on our hilly land close to watercourses.’

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Whilst the future at Shortwaite looks healthy, the impact of the exit from the EU may have implications. Chris notes ‘If farm subsidies go completely it will add financial pressure to all parties. Having said that if farmers sell up because of it there may be land available for a younger generation of Mulgrave farmers to take up the role. We will have to wait and see, I guess’