The not so calm after the Great Yorkshire Storm

Farm Life

So it’s been a week since we came home from the great Yorkshire show! Which in itself was an experience, even though it was a wet week we all managed to get a bit of sunburn! It was a good week for the north of England highland cattle club and it was nice to catch up with various people from the highland cattle world.

Friday, the last day, was a military operation of getting up before the rain started to pack down camp so we could at least have our tents packed dry and in trailer waiting for the word to be able to load up and come home (we take animals for another breeder).

Once we got home it’s all about itching to get round and see your own stock after a week away.

A few days after getting home our cattle decided to give us one of those weeks that makes you question why you work with livestock!

Charlie our highland bull decided that (as his nofence collar is off for repair), he would use his new found freedom to push through two fences and a hedgerow to get to the fattening dexters and some jersey heifers after which once he’d had his wicked way decided that a quicker route back to his own girls was through two wooden gates that had the audacity to be locked, no worries for a large highland who can just lean on said wooden gates til they make this strange cracking noise then magically open up in the middle ! Got to love cattle.

Midweek, no fence collar back on to Charlie; had a look over to the dexters and we had little Bluebelle, a heifer calf who had decided out of nowhere to become lame! A trip to the vet and a couple of X-rays later no real obvious sign as to why. After viewing her X-rays, myself and the vet seem to think she is starting to use the leg a little better; so back home with a dose of pain killers and anti-inflammatories…..Friday morning lame again! Another trip to vet and it seems a swelling has started to form in the hock; so Bluebelle is now sporting a lovely bright pink pot for the next six weeks with a suspected damaged growth plate in her hock!

Saturday morning we hoped to be in for better news as our last Dexter to calf, Lilli, gave us a lovely little heifer calf!! Alas! Lilli was not as impressed with the little heifer as we were! Queue Mr farmer spending all day popping in and haltering up Lilli to allow little one to drink! What a week!

Sunday morning, phone call sheep are out all over, one of foot path fields gate has been left open, quick out and about to find a few sheep in various places – luckily all our own fields! (Mondays job to gather them all back to one place).

Quick check if highlands Charlie’s collar is broken AGAIN! (We will boss this)…. Feeling a little deflated and ready for more bad news we sneak into shed to see Lilli stood allowing calf to drink on her own! SUCCESS !

All is right with the world!

We do love cattle.

Here’s to next week!

“Lilli” with her little heifer Calf “Lillibet”

Great British Beef Week!


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.

Turnout Time!

Farm Life

It’s been a week since our last blog update and we’ve actually managed to sit down and write another one!

This week marks the end of the cows and sheep being in the sheds over the winter. Our plan over the next couple of years is to keep our livestock out for as long as possible, if not all year round; only bringing animals in that need a bit of extra TLC. This winter gone, the Hebridean sheep and the Highland cows spent all winter outside – they are hardy animals that far prefer being outside. The commercial sheep and Dexter cows spent the winter inside the sheds and this week they were turned out to pasture as the events season is about to kick off and we need to get the lambing barn mucked out in time. I’m sure we’ll talk about this more over the forthcoming year but this year will mark the first grazing season where we rotationally graze our farm; moving the cows every 12-24 hours and the sheep every 24-48 hours. We tested it last year after haymaking and decided it was the route we wanted to go down in order to keep our animals outside for longer, improve the grass by not over grazing, cutting down on hard feed as well as a whole other variety of benefits. But it will take time and money to undo several decades of conventional grazing; we do like a challenge though!

Turnout time also means that we can now offer our latest farming experiences for those who want to get behind the scenes and get up close to our livestock. We have our Diddy Coo experience which entails a ride on our tractor trailer up into where the Highland Cows are grazing and meet them up close from the safety of our passenger trailer whilst learning all about our fold and the breed. We are constantly being asked if people can come see the cows, take photos of the cows etc so this is the perfect opportunity to do exactly that.The second is aimed at folk who are looking at taking the plunge into the world of farming either as a career, a hobby or just want to learn a bit more. The plan is to follow the farm team around for a half day session getting hands on and involved with moving stock, feeding, any husbandry jobs taking place such as shearing or foot trimming etc – we’ll even treat you to lunch in the onsite cafe.

On Thursday Strawberry, one of the red Dexters, gave birth to a red heifer – Chestnut, outside in the fields. She’s a second time mum but this time the little one was coming backwards which meant Mr Farmer had to get involved to deliver the calf safely. We’re very pleased to say mum and baby are doing absolutely fine (despite the awful weather since), Mr Farmer just needed a very good wash afterwards! This is the first ‘problematic’ birth we’ve had for 2 years which is pretty good going, we are used to sheep after all! We’ve got 30 calves due this year, a leap from last years’ 7 and we’ve had 9 born so far with the majority due to come between now and June.

In other news, we’ve been learning how to tan skins. This week a couple of hebridean hoggets were sent for some meat box orders and they had really nice fleeces on them but it’s too early for shearing so we had the skins back from the abattoir and decided to give tanning a crack. Now, we are cheating a little bit – we bought a tanning kit with all the appropriate chemicals etc you need to do it. We’re not in a position to organically tan using brains or anything like that but it’s been interesting to see how it works and how we can do better next time. In true Malia style we’ve failed to document our first attempt as we go along so we’ll have to save the step by step for skin number 2. But we’ve made it to the drying stage so this time next week we should have our very own homemade hebridean sheep skin. We find this very exciting as five years ago we were buying skins from IKEA and now we’re able to do them ourselves, from a sheep we bred ourselves and have spent every day with for the last 2 years.

It’s been a while…

Farm Life

We’re not the best at keeping our blog up to date, sorry!

Since January we have been lambing. First off we lambed our ten Shropshire sheep, from 10 mums we ended up with 10 lambs; not the 12 we had at scanning time but you have to make provision for death rates unfortunately. Batch two lambed throughout February into March, this time 38 mules producing 61 lambs. Our mules like to produce triplets so we had 10 cade lambs to look after which enables us to run our bottle feeding sessions as an activity for visitors to the farm to get involved with. The third and final batch of lambs are now down to single digits with a week left to go and then its all over for another year…well September when the process begins again!

So, the plan going forwards is to try and write a blog once a week (optimistic we know!) and give a bit of a round up of what’s been going on in our little corner of the world.

This week we’ve welcomed a few thousand visitors onto the farm as part of the lambing open days the fundraising team hold to generate funds for the education team and their alternate provision work. Day 1 was glorious sunshine, Day 2 quite the opposite. Both days saw Mr Farmer on a microphone chatting to the visitors about sheep facts and a bit about what he does as a shepherd. No lambs were born during this time; they don’t like to perform for the masses haha. This week also marks the end of our one-to-one sessions focusing on lambing jobs and bottle feeding the cade lambs. We have been truly overwhelmed with the amount of interest and uptake in these experiences and have loved getting to share our lives with so many of you. We’re currently putting together an offering for over the summer months so there will be more on that soon.

On Wednesday we welcomed a pair of Rheas on to the farm. A friend of our is moving and needed a new home for them so that’s something exciting for the kiddos to get involved with.

We’ve also visited North Yorkshire twice this week, schedules couldn’t be aligned to tick both boxes at the same time which is how it goes sometimes. Mr Farmer was recently appointed treasurer for the North of England Highland Cattle Club so we went to handover from the previous treasurer and then we went to collect some Dexter steers to fill a gap in the farm shop supply coming up in a couple of months. With the cattle we breed, any used for beef production take 2 and half years to be fit to go and whilst we’ve certainly got enough cattle to be self sufficient to supply the farm shop, it’s two years away before the calves born over the last season will be ready to go! It really is a long game with beef but absolutely worth the wait. We’re really fortunate to have a decent network of other farmers with the same ethos as us and breeds!


Farm Life

After a couple of successful small scale experience days we are now proud to announce we are flingin’ open the farm gates and inviting you to come down on’t farm and experience life on our small family farm on the edge of the Peaks. We have a few “packages” available but we can also offer custom experiences, whether it be a hen-do bottle feeding lambs or a team building group mucking out the cows or grooming our highland cows, please do get in touch to see what we can do!

You can see some details of our packages HERE, or feel free to email us to get further info

Shop Update!

Woolie Works

We’ve been busy little bees whilst the weather has been nice and turned a bunch of sheep fleeces into lots of rugs and felted ornaments!

Currently you can buy our items via our Etsy shop. If anything tickles your fancy give the picture a click and it’ll take you over to our site.

Here’s a sneak peek at what we’ve got going on:

Hebridean Felted Sheepskin
Jacob Felted Sheepskin
Wensleydale Felted Sheepskin
Herdwick Peg Loom Rug
Needle Felted Herdwick Buddies
Needle felted White Face Woodies

That’s all from us for now! If you want to keep up to date with our farm life shenanigans give us a follow on our Facebook or Instagram on @hurucorarebreeds

Meet your meat !


We are excited and extremely pleased to announce that as well as being able to order from us direct you can now purchase our rare and native breed meat from Whirlow Hall Farm Shop & Butchery. The lovely Mrs Farmer has produced some handy little “guides to meat” and our breeds that are also available free of charge either from the shop or with every order we send out !

This week is our 14 day matured Wensleydale mutton, as you can see from the picture of this rack of mutton, the meat is very well marbled and will be full of flavour.

So please come on down and give us a visit, chat to our friendly butcher or ask to speak to someone from the HuRuCo Team, we are always around and happy to chat about rare and native breeds of animals and their place in the modern market all day!


Farm Life

Well what a rollercoaster that was! Usually we split both our rare breeds and our commercials over 2 lambing’s evenly, this year we decided to lamb the majority of everything in the spring as part of our move back towards a more traditional lambing and way of farming (more on that in the next couple of months)!

This year we lambed 20 commercials and 10 rare breeds in February. 

All seemed to go quite smoothly with the rare breeds, the commercials on the other hand decided to take their sweet time, obviously the teasers (vasectomised males used to bring females into a closer heat cycle) hadn’t done as good a job as i had hoped, taking best part of 3 weeks to lamb 20 sheep, very drawn out but with 54 lambs out of the 30 ewes (giving us a lambing percentage of 180%) I can’t really complain as the rare breeds can bring down the lambing percentage a tad.

April 1st hit and we are into the 140 commercials and 32 rare breeds, the ewes hit the ground running lambing really well and putting on a good show lambing for visitors on our lambing open days held by Whirlow Hall Farm Trust, which i may add is the first lambing open days done since lockdown 2019! And that was strange welcoming 100s of people into our lambing shed after 2 years without anyone in our lambing shed but us!

Although I only attended the first lambing day in person as the dreaded C19 virus struck our household, after avoiding it for all this time it swept through all six of us, the baby and myself being the worse affected closely followed by Mrs farmer and the boys.

This was not our idea of lambing fun, I was lucky enough that my farm apprentice and some very capable vet placement students covered most of the day times for us (and even a couple of night shifts!) but even so it was rather rough. Myself and Mrs farmer wandering around the lambing shed until 3 am, looking like death warmed up, anyone looking in would have thought we were on some sort of illicit substance.

But as I write this we are onto the very dregs of the last couple of stubborn ewes (3 Hebridean, 1 Scottish black face, 1 Whiteface woodland and 5 commercial mules) and at last count in this batch we have about 271 lambs from 162 sheep (168%) the percentage is brought down a little by the Hebrideans and Scottish Blackfaces having mainly singles, but we are happy with it.

We have a good number of ewe lambs this year so looking forward to getting out to a few sales this year and getting our bloodlines out and about in the world!

One last thing is a shout out to Nairn Wyllie of NJW AGRI SERVICES, who scanned our sheep for the first time this year and everyone ewe performed exactly as he said! And a very friendly chatty nature to boot!!

All made possible by the TEAM!

Shiny new logo

Farm Life
HuRuCo Rare Breeds

After long consideration we have finally decided to commit to our move away from Valais blacknose sheep and change our logo!
So here it is, lovingly designed and drawn by Mrs Farmer herself…. one of many changes we will keep you all updated on as they progress……stay tuned

Authentic Hebridean Hogget

Farm Life

Just a quick update guys to say we are now part of the Authentic Hebridean Hogget Scheme, head on over to the HSS website to read more about this scheme.

“Tastier. Healthier. High quality. Speciality. Seasonal. Known provenance…are all terms that accurately describe meat from Hebridean Sheep. The meat is dark, succulent and distinctly sweet with a subtle gamey flavour. Hebrideans are natural browsers and they prefer land that contains a diversity of plants which in turn adds to their meat’s distinctive flavour. Similar to other primitive breeds, Hebridean are slow to mature. This allows the flavour of the meat to develop further and they are often finished as hogget (meat from lambs over 1 year of age) or mutton (from sheep over 2 years old).

Healthier – lean meat that’s lower in cholesterol and higher in omega fatty acids