Off the Wall
We farm in South Northumberland from the Cumbrian – Northumbrian border from Melkridge in the South Tyne valley along Hadrians wall to Great Whittington, near Corbridge.
After coming through the 90’s following BSE and the challenges that were thrown down by the super markets of producing beef at below the cost of production, we decided to disperse our 400 limousine cross suckler cow herd which we finished the progeny on intensive grain diets on farm and sold deadweight.
As 7th generation grassland farmers, we decided to look for a niche market, which was in the form of supplying high-class butchers and restaurants with traditional native breeds of beef, and work on our farms ability to grow grass off Rig and Furrow pasture.
In 1999 we started buying Belted Galloways, Longhorns, and Highland cattle to fatten for three individual butchers who sought the marketing qualities of fantastic individual flavour. At one stage all three breeds we fattened were sold on three different butchers counters in the famous Borough Market, London.
In the following years as well as fattening these traditional cattle, we saw the potential to sell breeding females. We now have roughly 700 head of cattle, with over 200 breeding cows. They consist off 80 Belties and 70 whites and the rest are pedigree Beef Shorthorns which are integrating with our organic arable operation.
We sell breeding females and bulls and the remainder go to private local butchers, one of which is our own outlet. We have also exported white and Belted Galloway semen all over the world from some of our Bulls and have further straws in storage ready for sale.
We have 2000 breeding sheep on 3 different units. Scottish Blackface, North Of England Mule and Texel X. Everything is home-bred apart from a few tups which are bought in from local breeders. Just over 400 females are retained for the flock replacements per year and the remainder are finished on grass then red clover and finally kale into the new year. 300 are sold through our butchers shop throughout the year, and the rest sold on the deadweight system.
Our organic arable operation consits of winter wheat, spring barley, beans and spelt. Within this system we grow 140 acres of red clover which is cut twice for silage then grazed by prime lambs until sown with wheat in October.
Wheat and spelt are sold to local traditional mills for flour production. Barley and beans are sold to a local processor for animal feed production. All straw is used on farm and as well as compost and hen manure which is spread back onto the arable fields to maintain fertility.
All of our farm is in an HLS agreement. Every arable field has a 6 meter floristically enhanced margin to create a habitat for thriving wildlife from grey partridge to pollinating bees.