Field of Herdwick sheep at South Yeo Farm West



“Just wanted to let you know that I thought the course was fantastic. I came away unconcerned about the documentation and enthused about getting on with my own project. If you need any unskilled labour at any time for your own projects do please let me know .” ST, Berkshire
“I learnt so much more than I could have from a YEAR of reading, and I also feel passionate about making it a reality; very inspired by your passion”. CMC, Sussex

Six black piglets in a field taken on the Introduction to Smallholding training course weekend

Who would benefit from this course?

Are you thinking about taking on some livestock for the first time? Have you got an extra large garden or a bit of acreage that needs using? Do you want to know more about smallholding before taking the plunge? Do you want to produce your own food? Are you a new smallholder but feel a bit out of your depth?

Course content

This two day course will give you a solid grounding for getting started in smallholding, covering the essential topics of legal and statutory requirements, tools and equipment, livestock and land management, fencing, basic healthcare and medication. You’re encouraged to ask a raft of questions and we aim to leave you feeling confident in making those early smallholding decisions. You will spend time with our sheep, pigs, ducks, chickens and geese and no doubt have time for a quick hello to the cows, exploring the realities of smallholding. You will also spend a bit of time in our orchard and veg garden and learn how we combine livestock and environmental benefit.


10.00 Start the day

  • Introductions. What level of smallholding activity are you doing at the moment (if any), and what do you want to achieve on your smallholding?
  • The paperwork – it’s not as difficult as you think! Gaining an understanding of the legal requirements and paperwork required to run an efficient smallholding.
  • Basic tools and equipment. What tools, equipment and skills are required when starting up, and also when one gets more ambitious (from hand tools to tractors and trailers)
  • Lunch.  Preparing for the abattoir.
  • Livestock (in with the sheep, poultry and pigs)
  • Cream tea and Q+A – picking up any outstanding questions.

4.45 Finish for the day


8.30 Feeding and daily observation: for those happy to come early, get hands on helping us with the routine smallholder chores

9.30 arrival

  • coffee/tea, picking up on any outstanding questions
  • Livestock basic healthcare and medication; knowing your limits and when to seek advice
  • Hedging and fencing; materials available, advantages/shortcomings of different approaches, cost comparisons and basic techniques
  • Lunch
  • Choosing your livestock. Breeding or buying in? What are your options and your sources?
  • Creating habitats for wildlife, pasture management, and designing a smallholding (farm walk)
  • Making the most of your produce
  • Cream tea and Q+A

4.45 Feedback and finish


Cost: £225 per person for the weekend, including homemade lunch, Devon cream tea and refreshments on both days and our book The Complete Guide to Smallholding (one copy per booking). There is a discount for multiple bookings for the same course date (e.g. £405 for two people, £600 for three people, £785 for four people etc).

Saturday 21 & Sunday 22 September 2024
Saturday 16 & Sunday 17 November 2024
Saturday 8 & Sunday 9 March 2025
Saturday 26 & Sunday 27 April 2025
Saturday 28 & Sunday 29 June 2025
Saturday 20 & Sunday 21 September 2025
Saturday 15 & Sunday 16 November 2025

Booking: Booking is simple. Just send us your name, address, phone number and email address indicating which course you want to book with your preferred date, and we’ll send you an invoice (payment is required in advance), directions to the farm and any other information you might need. And don’t forget to tell us if you have any dietary restrictions.

Accommodation: For those of you travelling some distance, we don’t provide overnight accommodation on the farm but you’ll find some lovely options close by, ranging from B&Bs to camp sites and seriously luxurious treats here.

Do bring: outdoor clothes, clean wellies, waterproofs and a change of clothes if it looks like rain.

If you want to focus entirely on sheep or pigs or cattle, have a look at our Sheep for Beginners, Pigs for Beginners and Cattle for Beginners courses.

A family of pilgrim geese in a grass field at South Yeo Farm West
Two Whitefaced Dartmoor lambs laying together in a field during the Introduction to Smallholding training course weekend at South Yeo Farm West
A group of black Orpington chickens during the Introduction to Smallholding course at South Yeo Farm West

“It really was fantastic; I enjoyed it much more than I thought I would (and I thought I’d love it!). Really impressed with the course and plan to do a more in depth course in future.” LC, Nottingham
“This really was excellent – and thank you for arranging such beautiful weather too! I learnt a lot, and whether my move is fast or takes a couple of years (depending on the housing market) the advice will be timeless.” P V-S, Oxon

Logo with a barn owl and the words South Yeo Farm West around the owl forming a circle.