We have always farmed livestock, seeing their inclusion as a crucial part of our farming system. They can occupy land that is less fertile, either too steep or wet for conventional arable farming.
Being primarily Isle-of-Oxney based, we have land that is marsh, previous foreshore type land, and upland that was indeed an island before the ‘inning’ of the Romney Marsh and the diversion of the River Rother (Limen) the other way round the Isle.
The steep banks and uplands that are the remnants of this geological past, and mans influence over the centuries are generally consisted of heavy clay soils that are unviable to grow productive crops and hence laid down to permanent grass.
Our permanent pasture fields are all managed on low input methods to help encourage wild pasture species to flourish. We graze cattle for as long as the ground conditions allow. Giving all our animals as much of a grass diet as possible each year without leaving them out grazing for so long that they make a mess of the fields.
In recent years we have begun reintroducing native Sussex breed cattle into our predominantly European/Continental herd of beef suckler cows. Around 250 cows a year go to the bull and we aim to finish their progeny for beef inside 18 months of age. True to our vision of premium products we think that marketing the beef as finished, and thus born, bred and raised on just one farm their entire lives are a big part of what makes our beef a premium product.
Add to this, our environmental credentials (see here for more) and the average lifetime diet consisting of over 95% home grown or grazed forage. Introducing the native Sussex into the predominantly Limousin herd we hope to bring back a smaller carcass, something the British consumer demands, along with a richer eating quality from better marbled beef. Yet benefitting from some of the conformation characteristics that make the Limousin breed commercially attractive. Our aim is to produce a product that is at its heart, the best of British but even with some regional association to the South East.
We also market 1500-1700 prime home-produced lambs per year, again spending their entire lifetime on the farm and 100% forage-based diet. We grow a Texel cross lamb, from hardy Texel mule ewes. The sheep are useful management tools for our grazing grasses, but importantly also for our herbage seed crop, which appreciates grazing at the times of year we are not growing a seed. Another illustration of the symbiosis that mixed farming offers us. Sheep are a useful tool for grazing off lying, small or marginal land and we do also farm ground where the landlord prefers sheep to cattle.
For trade enquiries into wholesale purchase of our livestock please feel free to get in contact here.