Young Farmers profile: Dan Laddiman of North Walsham YFC on balancing an engineering job with the farming life
Norfolk Young Farmers
As part of our regular series of profiles on the region's Young Farmers' Club members, 27-year-old DAN LADDIMAN talks about balancing his livestock venture with an engineering job - and the passions which drove him into the farming life.
Ever since I was a young I have been fascinated with the farming life. Although I have never lived on a farm, I was fortunate enough to grow up on a working estate just north of Norwich.
While I didn’t quite come from a typical farming family, my father did have a small farm at Mundham Common in the late 70s and early 80s, rearing calves, chickens, turkeys, pigs, running a riding school and breeding palomino horses.
Restoring my first tractor is one of my earliest memories but I soon found I needed a faster pace in life. I was no longer allowed to ride on the tractor around the show rings but I could take to the UK’s karting circuits at the age of seven.
The next 11 years of my life were dedicated to motorsport and I achieved many successes in that time including; youngest ever ARDS approved race license holder, youngest winner of a mainstream motorsport race and British Radical SR3 Champion in 2008.
I do remember Dad telling me to join Young Farmers but I was so determined to make it in motorsport and as I had no affiliation to farming, I ignored his advice and this is something I regret not getting involved with sooner.
I started at Acle Young Farmers after being invited along by a friend from North Walsham Rugby Club where I was playing at the time. A year or so later I moved over to North Walsham Young Farmers and quickly found my feet.
The activities you can get involved with and the friends you make are nothing short of life-changing. You don’t have to be sitting in a tractor 12 hours a day to qualify. I would urge anyone to give it a go and experience something new.
It was time to start my farming enterprise, so I managed to persuade my local chicken farmer, Nigel Haines, to allow me to use six acres of grass to put my first 11 sheep on. This is where it all took off.
Three and a bit years later, I have moved to a larger farm in Gimingham where Alistair Cargill has given me a fantastic opportunity to grow. I have built up to 150 sheep including my pedigree Suffolks, I am rearing some bull calves and my six pedigree Lincoln Red heifers roam my favourite part of the farm, Stone Hill.
Even though my working day is rarely under 15 hours I wouldn’t change it for the world. The sense of pride and achievement is like nothing I have felt before.
Trying to run all of this along side my full time job as an engineer for Balfour Beatty/Anglian Water is very tiring and none of this would be possible without the helping hand from my best mate, my Dad.
He knows this is my passion and I can’t thank him enough for the support he gives me and the hours he puts in to make it all possible, a lot of his time is spent making equipment for me or repairing something I’ve broken.
I’m know he loves it as much as I do, and it’s great we can both share this fantastic way of life. My long-term aim is to build up to the point I can turn my passion into my job and maybe even rent my own farm. I would also hope to be able to offer the opportunity to another young farmer when the time comes, who isn’t necessarily from a farming family and give them a foot on the farming ladder.
If you have an inkling you might want to try a life in agriculture then all I can say is: Do it. In the unlikely event you don’t enjoy it, you can always say you have been part of this Great British Industry.
Name: Dan Laddiman.
Occupation: Impact plan engineer / livestock farmer.
YFC Club: North Walsham.
How long have you been a YFC member?: 7 years.
• North Walsham YFC meets at Rossi’s on Tungate Road on Tuesday evenings. For more details about Norfolk Young Farmers contact the county office on 01603 731307.