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Farming the Old-Fashioned Way with Shire Horses

The owner of Higher Biddacott Farm near Barnstaple in Devon has turned his back on modern technology. Jonathan Waterer cultivates 100 acres of land using shire horses instead of tractors!

Where Time Has Stood Still

Time appears to have stood still on the idyllic farm. 5 huge shire horses pull the ploughs and Mr Waterer has not invested in any expensive agricultural machinery. The horses each stand over 18 hands tall and weigh nearly a ton. They are considerably cheaper to use than fuel thirsty tractors and are far more environmentally friendly. This type of ploughing requires grass and oats rather than costly diesel!

American Equipment

Jonathan Waterer purchased traditional farming equipment form Amish people in Ohio, US. It is pulled efficiently by the shire horses who possess incredible stamina and can cover up to 10 acres in a single day. They can work well into their 20’s and so provide an amazing service to the enterprising farmer who has owned the farm for 21 years.

Tractors and Drivers

The farmer next door uses four tractors and these require four workers to operate them. All of that machinery and manpower covers the same ground as the five horses but at much greater expense.

Stars of the Small Screen

The Shire horses of Biddacott Farm are also television stars as they have appeared in Pride and Prejudice, Vanity Fair, Lark Rise to Candleford, Tess of the D'Urbervilles and Poldark. Mr Waterer is an expert in their care and regularly breaks in horses for other owners. He has worked with horses since he was a small child and has no intention of changing his ways.

Amazing Shire Horses

There are only a handful of farms in the country which continue to use shire horses to plough the land. This traditional method of farming is more time consuming than using a tractor but more economical and characterful. The horses do not pollute the atmosphere with harmful emissions and they are an amazing sight.

So, have traditional farmers got it right? Is the old-fashioned way actually the best way? Perhaps some forms of progress aren’t progress at all!


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