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Stackyard News Mar 06

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Growing Routes Celebrates One Hundred Clients

An innovative practical design aimed at saving new born lambs is the 100th business to be supported by Growing Routes, the Yorkshire Agricultural Society initiative which nurtures embryonic businesses.

woollie warmer
"Woollie Warmer" for hypothermic lambs

Since its launch two years ago, Growing Routes has given over £500,000 to support new farm based businesses in the region. These range from transforming redundant farm buildings to horse therapy, to a swimwear business to a farmer who is producing healthy seed based snacks. Growing Routes is supported by Yorkshire Forward.

George Hamilton, Regional Programme Director said: “Growing Routes provides a wide range of support. In addition to grants, we help plan the business venture and follow this with support from our mentors and also training. As well as the benefit to individual businesses, it brings new prosperity to the countryside which helps revitalise the rural economy as a whole.”

The 100th business to receive support is run by Sally Howe, a farmer’s wife from near Sheffield. Mrs Howe came up with the idea for the “Woollie Warmer” after spending hours trying to revive sickly, cold lambs. “We found that bathing the lambs in warm water proved a quick and effective way of bringing them round but I kept thinking we needed something better, which led to developing the prototype,” she said.

The result was an insulated plastic box for lambs which has now gone into production. The “Woollie Warmer” operates by providing a warm bath for new born lambs to sit in as they recover their strength. A sling for the lamb is fitted across a robust plastic box enabling it to remain suspended but supported in the warm water. Tests at their farm, much of which is on exposed land at over 1000ft above sea level, proved it was effective. Sally now has a patent and plans are underway for the first batch to be produced at a Chesterfield factory.

Deborah Phillips, South Yorkshire Co-ordinator for Growing Routes said: “Our aim with the Growing Routes initiative is to promote and nurture business ideas from rural areas. Sally’s invention provides a solution to a very real problem. It is well thought out, practical and it works. From working with Sally, it is clear that she has tenacity, vision and drive. I’m sure the Woollie Warmer will prove a great success.”

Sally drew on her 18 years’ experience as a Paediatric nurse at Sheffield Children’s Hospital. “Clearly the first few hours of life are vital. One of the benefits of the Woollie Warmer is that it frees the shepherd to carry on working in the knowledge that the lamb is being revived. These days many farmers’ wives work and so aren’t available to help resuscitate sickly lambs. I have given it to farming friends to try and the feed back has been positive. Growing Routes played a major role in getting this off the ground, with funding and with the on-going business support I’ve received. In addition, South Yorkshire Business Link and Wire (Women in Rural Enterprise) have also been extremely supportive and given valuable advice.”

Retailing at £85, Sally plans to market the Woollie Warmer through her farming contacts, auctions marts, vets’ practices and agricultural shows including the Great Yorkshire Show, and Countryside Live. The Prince of Wales is also on her mailing list. “He is very supportive of the farming industry and I’m sure his shepherd at the Duchy of Cornwall would find one useful!”

link Giving Surplus Lambs a Chance
link Bank of Scotland to Sponsor Scotsheep 2006
link Making the Grade with Lambs

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