Mike Miller farms 300 acres of grassland in North Dorset with his wife Anna. As well as having a herd of 65 suckler cows they are building a business around breeding New Zealand Suffolk sheep.
Now they have introduced a biomass boiler to heat the farmhouse, a farm cottage and the on-site facilities they offer for “glamping”, or up-market camping.
The couple borrowed from NatWest and Lombard, RBS’s dedicated asset finance arm, to install the boiler, which they hope will help them cut down on energy costs.
Mike said: “We need to have different income streams to keep us on an even keel. That is why we do the sorts of things we do – it’s about not having all our eggs in one basket.”
Mike grew up on Mount Pleasant Farm near Blandford, which was taken on by his father Richard about 50 years ago.
Mike and Anna also worked with NatWest in Autumn 2012 to borrow money to establish a flock of New Zealand Suffolk ewes. The breed are said to be more profitable for farmers because they have a grass-based diet without needing extra feeding, and they tend to live longer than other breeds.
Mike and Anna are using a technique called embryo transfer to build up their flock to a point where they can start selling rams with 100% pure New Zealand genetics.
Mike is one of 20 people in the UK this year to win a Nuffield Farming Scholarship, which is seeing him travel the world, including to New Zealand, to learn more about different farming systems.
Mike and Anna worked with NatWest relationship manager Ali Hill, who specialises in agriculture, to borrow money to fund the biomass boiler and to start their sheep flock.
Mike said: “Ali is good – she is easy to get along with, she is very proactive and is very understanding.”
Hill said: “Anna and Mike are such a hardworking and energetic couple - it is a pleasure to work with them. The Suffolks are already proving to be a big success and this year’s lambs look fantastic.
“With Anna and Mike’s continued commitment, enthusiasm and attention to detail with all their enterprises the investments they have made for the future will pay off. I very much look forward to supporting them with future projects that they wish to undertake.”