Great British Beef Weeks runs in the last week of April each year and it’s an opportunity to shout about the amazing beef farmers in the UK produce.
So why do we champion British Beef?
*In Britain we have some of the highest animal welfare standards in the world which regulate the way our beef is produced
*We don’t use growth hormones in British beef and antibiotics are only administered if prescribed by a vet.
*We use a British cattle passport system which means every animal can be traced to its mother and its place of birth *Our beef industry is the envy of the world. Breeding lines from our native breed cows are sought after by lots of overseas farmers.
*The Top 10 native cattle breeds in the UK are: Highlands, Belted Galloways, English Longhorn, Red Poll, White Park, Hereford, British White, Ayrshire, Aberdeen Angus and South Devon.
*When you buy your beef directly from a farm shop the food miles are far smaller than buying imported beef. The fresher the beef, the lower the carbon footprint.
*Buying beef from us British farmers means you are helping us keep the countryside maintained for you all to enjoy. *Beef is naturally high in protein and provides 8 essential vitamins and minerals that support good health and well-being.
*So, Why British Beef? Because it’s the best in the world right here on your doorstop! Even if we do say so ourselves!
With it being British Beef week we thought we’d write a little bit about the cattle we keep here on the farm.
We run three breeds of cattle.
First off is our Pedigree herd of Dexter cattle. Dexters are a native breed that are small than most cows you’re used to seeing, the tallest measuring in at about a metre tall! We established our herd back in lockdown, 2020 with 7 in calf cows – 3 years later and we have over 30 in Red, Black and Dun.
Dexters are a dual purpose breed that produce both meat and milk. Whilst they produce a smaller carcass their meat packs a punch and is super flavoursome. We let them grow for two and a half years before they go for beef which is around 12 months longer than commercial producers. They spend the majority of their life outside eating nothing but grass. Our aim is to get our land to a stage where our Dexter herd can be outside all year round as part of our push to farm in a more regenerative manner. We graze our dexters using the nofence system keeping them on a field for no more than 5 days before moving them on. Hopefully this will mean we’re constantly teasing our grass into growing and enable us to keep them eating the fresh stuff for longer into the winter.
The second breed of cattle is our Highlands. Our fold began in May 2022 with a yearling heifer from the motherland. Since then we’ve gained 6 highland cows and a bull. Four calves have been born with two remaining to give birth in late summer. Highland cows are a slow maturing breed which means the girls don’t go to the bull until they are nearly 3 years old and the beef isn’t ready until 30 months old, same as the Dexters. Due to their thick coats the cows don’t produce much external fat so their meat in lean, low in cholesterol but well marbled throughout giving it a strong beefy flavour. Our Highland cows do live outside all year round, their thick coats mean they can stand all that Mother Nature has to throw at them and they can thrive on very little – where they originate from is very rough grazing. Similar to the Dexters, Highland cattle are smaller in size than more commercial breeds but for what they lack in size they more than make up for in taste ehich means less is definitely more – a meat eating ethos we like to champion.
The last group of cows are our Jersey cows. We bought a trio back in the Autumn as a way to produce our own milk for the house. The milk game is a whole other topic to chat about sometime but we decided to have a house cow and ended up with a milking cow, a heifer and a calf. These ladies will be crossed with the dexter bull which will provide us with hopefully a slightly bigger frame animal but with the excellent dexter taste.