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Farm diversification

From broiler chickens to home-grown British cassis

Since joining the family business, Jo Hilditch has successfully taken it into new areas. Not content with chicken production, her farm now produces apples and blackcurrants.

Jo Hilditch of the Whittern Farms in Lyonshall, Herefordshire is a relatively new entrant to farming. Jo’s father built up a highly successful poultry processing concern and the intended succession plan for the farm had been for Jo’s younger brother to take over. But after he died at a young age, Jo decided to leave her marketing career in London to return to run the family business.

Whittern Farms continues to focus on the production of broiler chickens – 5.5 million every year. But Jo has also steered the business into fruit production.

The farm now grows 150 acres of blackcurrants. The majority of the crop goes to make Ribena, with a small amount reserved to make the farm’s own highly popular and award-winning British cassis. There are also 75 acres of apple orchards that provide produce for Bulmer’s cider and a further 300 acres of wheat and arable, mostly used to feed the chickens.

Jo has also recently invested in 2 50kW solar panel arrays, 9 200kW biomass boilers to heat the chickens, and a smaller 140kW boiler that heats 6 dwellings on the farm – including the converted barns and old Victorian stable block that provide luxury, group self-catering accommodation.

You can find out more about British cassis at britishcassis.co.uk

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