Judith Dryden

Judith Dryden

Arable, sheep and poultry

MIXED, DURHAM: Judith has recently (summer 2023) retired from farming. Before that she farmed 650 acres (263ha) between Durham City and the north-east coast, surrounded by small ex-mining villages. Her daughter now runs the livestock and poultry side of the business while her husband Martin and her son Richard run the arable and contracting side, which spans across 3,000 acres (1214ha) of rented land.

As a farmer’s daughter she has always enjoyed working with animals. After leaving school she worked as a scientist in a research laboratory before returning to farming with her husband. She started the poultry side of the business in 1999, which has grown to 100 free-range geese and 500 free-range turkeys for Christmas, which are reared and processed on farm and sold from the farm gate.

A small flock of Suffolk cross ewes (adult female sheep) produce lamb which is sold online as Dryden’s boxed lamb.

In 2020, Richard started a bed and breakfast system for pigs, with the first shed built to house 1,000 weaners (young pigs). They plan to expand this further as the straw from the arable fields can be utilised to bed down the pigs and returned to the fields after as fertiliser.

She enjoys the many opportunities farming has to offer. “I can work in the office, care for my animals and drive a forklift all in the same day - the next day will be different again. Not many jobs offer such a variety of activities.”

Judith regularly educates her customers about animal welfare. “I explain why my birds are allowed out into the fields during the day and why I have to protect them from the fox with an electric fence - this allows me to have both foxes and turkeys on the same farm.”

She believes the public are interested in farming and love talking to farmers: “Questions can be answered with more passion from someone who has done the job,” she smiles.

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Outside of farming, Judith likes cycling in the countryside, walking, and visiting art galleries.