Featured student of the month – Michael Cowan

13 December 2011

Michael Cowan
Michael Cowan

“I really like working with my brother, we bring different skills and talents to the business so it works really well.


A monthly special featuring a current student from Harper Adams.

When not busy studying at Harper Adams University College, brothers Michael and Philip Cowan are expanding their Shetland sheep business at the family farm in County Durham.

First year student Michael is studying for a foundation science degree in agriculture. Together with Philip, he has increased the Shetland flock from 60 to 200 in the past year.

Michael also has a flock of Pedigree Jacob sheep which are used for showing and meat production. The 18-year-old said: “I really like working with my brother, we bring different skills and talents to the business so it works really well.

“I like to think that I am very practical and hands-on, whilst Philip has a good business mind and uses the skills developed from his Rural Enterprise and Land Management degree.

The 200-acre family farm at Crook is a mix of suckler cattle, sheep, cereals and poultry, including Christmas turkeys. The brothers chose to independently set up their own flock of commercial sheep, renting land from family friends.

They hand-clip all fleeces from the sheep and sell them to the craft industry to be made into yarn and other products. The brothers sell their fleeces to London-based fashion label Izzy lane, and also the Knitting shop, an online business that sells knitting kits.

Michael, who is a member of the Harper Adams football team, added: “The business is going really well for us and we hope to keep expanding year-on-year. We also show and I have had a very successful first year with my Jacob sheep.”

“I’m aiming to become a farm manager in the future, studying at Harper Adams gives me the right skills and provides the best opportunities to fulfil that ambition.”

Older brother Philip is now in his final year at the University College in Shropshire, following a placement year at real estate service provider, Savills in Ipswich.

The 21-year-old said: “The ultimate aim is to be able to buy our own land. We have built this up from scratch with support from our parents and are very proud of what we have achieved.”

Philip was featured student of the month in December 2010. Visit his profile to find out more.

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