At Fir Farm we believe that local, sustainably farmed food from animals fed their natural diet is better for their health and general wellbeing – and ours.
Our beef and sheep are pasture-fed, certified by the Pasture-Fed Livestock Association. This means they are not fed any form of grain or manufactured feeds, which are not suited to their digestive systems. Intensive livestock production, which often feeds animals on soya, maize or wheat in order to accelerate growth, can be damaging to the animal’s wellbeing and also to the environment. Cultivation of crops for livestock feed are one of the main drivers of deforestation, and are often reliant on chemical inputs, including fertilisers and pesticides.
Meat derived from animals fed on pasture has been shown to have higher nutritional value, including:
- Lower total fat levels and lower saturated fat content;
- Higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids and a lower, more balanced ratio of omega-6:omega-3 fatty acids;
- Significantly higher levels of conjugated linoleic acid and higher levels of vaccenic acid;
- Higher vitamins and mineral levels, particularly rich in vitamins A and E, and minerals such as calcium, magnesium and potassium.
We passionately believe local food systems are uniquely valuable and can provide excellent food that is good for our community. We serve local customers, many of whom come and buy direct from our farm or we deliver straight to their door. We provide a reliable product they know and trust, and we know many of our customers personally.
Running a diverse, mixed farm also has wider benefits for the local community and economy. From hiring fencing contractors and dry stone wallers to foresters and farm workers, our farm provides jobs for local people and relies on many local services, playing an important role in the rural economy. The abundant wildlife on our farm and the beauty of the landscape also benefits the public who can walk on our land using the public footpaths.
We are also working with the Sustainable Food Trust’s campaign for local abattoirs to try and address the catastrophic decline in small abattoirs in recent years. Having lost a third of small red meat abattoirs between 2007 and 2017 and a further 8 in 2018 alone, we now only have 56 left across the UK.
For us, it is vitally important to slaughter as close to the point of production as possible. Small, local abattoirs ensure higher welfare through less travel time, lower throughput numbers and smaller pens and handling systems at the abattoir. This reduces the animal’s stress, which can also affect the taste and quality of the meat. Many farmers build up a good relationship with their abattoir and butcher, who comes to know their needs and can provide a more diverse range of cuts to suit their requirements.
But most importantly, without these small abattoirs, farmers would be unable to sell their meat direct to consumers. Large abattoirs often supply the bigger retailers and do not return meat to the farmer, meaning that locally sourced, traceable meat production would not be possible without the service of these small abattoirs.
You can find out more about the campaign here.