Nestling in the rolling Worcestershire hills close to the Herefordshire border lies the charming village of Shelsleys Beuchamp, about fifteen miles north west of Worcester. Driving north out of the village the single track lanes take you through some lovely countryside until all of a sudden you are confronted with a sight to behold - fields full of Belted Galloways.
Pard House farm is on the Stanford Bride road in the middle of the Teme valley and is home to Deborah and Dave Powell. There is much of interest here - the lovely timbered house appears in the Doomeday Book - but the main attraction is what must be the largest herd of pedigree Belted Galloways anywhere in Britain. Deborah and Dave have been farming here for quite some time, gradually expanding the farm by taking on land on neighbouring farms, as well as 300 acres of grazing from Worcestershire Wildlife Trust near Tewkesbury.
A turning point arrived along the way when they took a conscious decision to specialise in Belties. There are one or two other small enterprises including Jacob Sheep and a small herd of Ancient Welsh Cattle (also belted and extremely rare), but the Beltie herd has been steadily expanded and now stands in the region of 340 including youngstock. As you will imagine such an enterprise is far from being a hobby, and the Powells have taken strictly commercial approach to their herd from the outset. They have assiduously cultivated specialist outlets for their Beltie beef, including the prestigious Lux Farm Shop near Ipswich and local farm shops. They are also involved with the Rare Breed Survival Trust as a finishing unit. This is also an outlet for Beltie Bullocks.
With numbers well up the sale of female breeding stock is now an option, and heifers from the Shelsleys herd are often available to discerning buyers. This has led to participation at regional shows, and Deborah and Dave were delighted to scoop the reserve championship on their first outing to the Three Counties Show in Malvern, not to mention a reserve championship at Newbury. As the quality of the stock has grown the herd is also in a position to sell young bulls for breeding, a rewarding situation to be in after many years of careful and judicious breeding. Current stock bulls include Boxmoor Earl, Southfield Superstar, Crankan Augustus and Summerleaze Oscar.
It is refreshing to see a unit where Belties are not only being kept in such large numbers, but are also being farmed in such a progressive and profitable way. Surely an example to us all and a brilliant advertisement for the commercial attributes of our breed.