Mixed livestock farming is central to our sustainable system, helping to build soil fertility naturally, whilst the animals enjoy rich pastureland with a huge – and growing – diversity of flora and fauna.
We raise 100% pasture-fed beef cattle and sheep, as well as free-range pigs and poultry fed on home grown, organically produced feed.
We choose native breeds of livestock, naturally adapted to their local environment. This helps us to manage the land in environmentally sensitive ways, protecting soil, increasing biodiversity and enhancing meat quality.
The health of our animals is paramount. They are all fed on a varied and natural diet, free from the routine use of medications that contribute to antibiotic resistance. We use a mob grazing system which mimics the natural behaviour of wild grazing animals as closely as possible in a farmed setting. This brings significant benefits to the soil, pasture quality and biodiversity.
The natural instinct of grazing animals is to move and graze as a group, ensuring safety against predators. To mimic this we graze our animals on small areas for short periods, moving them to fresh grass every few days. This creates a more natural grassland and soil ecosystem in which grass can fully recover and the soil is broken up naturally by the trampling of cattle, allowing moisture and seeds to be better absorbed, creating fertility and diversity.
Mob grazing of our diverse pasture provides a natural food source, rich in nutrients, for the animals. This also allows them to ‘self-medicate‘, selecting the plants that are good for them, including many natural ‘de-wormers’ and other beneficial varieties. This is one of the reasons we have seen a 30% reduction in our vet bills in recent years.
Below are some benefits of a mob grazing system:
- Taller plants and quick re-grwoth due to the long rest periods between grazing.
- Animals graze more evenly and less selectively
- Trampling improves soil health, building organic matter and protecting it from erosion and dehydration.
- Drought tolerance due to deep rooting forage cover that also protects the soil.
- Even manure distribution.
- Less compaction as animals do not have to walk far.
- Plant resilience and season extension due to plant density and deeper, more resilient root systems.
- Increased stocking capacity due to faster recovery and greater density of plants.
- Increased animal performance due to a healthy soil with good biology which makes more nutrients available to the plants.
- Benefits to the wild flora and fauna with greater plant diversity and habitats.
- More human interaction with the animals and better animal welfare.
Click here to read more about mob grazing by Christine Page of Smiling Tree Farm.
Why Pasture?The Pasture-Fed Livestock Association champions the virtues of pastoral farming, providing a distinct identity for systems where animals eat only grass and forage crops their entire life. Food produced this way is much tastier and healthier for humans to eat than meat from animals fed grain.
We use a local abattoir which is only 50 minutes away. For us, it is vitally important to slaughter as close to where the animals are born and raised as possible. This reduces the animal’s stress, which can also affect the taste and quality of the meat, as well as reducing food miles and the carbon footprint of our meat. Local abattoirs are essential for local food systems, without which we could not have locally produced, traceable meat. This is why we are supporting the Sustainable Food Trust’s campaign for local abattoirs as, unfortunately, many small abattoirs have been forced to close in recent years.
There are around 30,000 herds and flocks of native breeds in the UK, contributing over £700 million to UK local economies. Native breeds are uniquely adapted to their landscape and climate and can be used to manage the land in a more natural and environmentally sensitive way. Maintaining diversity in livestock breeds is also essential for food security. You can read more about the importance of native breeds by visiting the Rare Breeds Survival Trust website.