Robert Fitton, who leases Moss Hall Farm in Bolton is hoping to get permission to convert one of its 3 barns into boarding kennels. If approved, it will provide locals with somewhere to leave their dogs when they head off on holiday or even to work.
Mr. Fitton currently keeps cows, bulls, sheep, and horses on the farm, and his mother also holds dog training sessions. Together they realised that dog-owners were looking for a place to care for their dogs, any many were asking them to take dogs on their farm. After declining these people due to the farm's lack of license and appropriate facilities, the mother and son duo have decided to make plans for boarding kennels.
They want to transform one of their barns into 14 kennels, which will add 2 jobs to the existing 4 staff members already on the farm. Mr. Fitton has said that they are looking to diversify this area of their farm, partly because they are dog-lovers, and also because there is a massive demand for this service. The value of the pet industry has doubled over the last 10-15 years and shows no sign of slowing.
The family partnership works with Mr. Fitton responsible for the farming side of the business, and his mother leading the dog training side. He told The Bolton News, “We can' t make enough money if I just run the farm, we have to diversify to keep the farm”. They have had support for the proposal from people in the local area and are currently waiting for planning approval.
Farm diversification has become increasingly commonplace within the farming industry. As energy costs increase, food prices decrease and the real impact of Brexit unclear, many of Britain's farmers are having to find new ways to make money. About half of all UK farms have diversified their business, which has brought an average of £10,400 extra revenue per farm. Farm diversification is not guaranteed to boost profits and can be a complex process, but those who venture out can reap lucrative rewards.