Beautiful Beef

The first beef farm we visited earlier in the week was Northfield farm, which is known for their amazing and historical beef that they then sell at Borough market in London! Jan and Tessa first started their farm with one smaller framed Dexter cow and then expanded it to a 250 head herd. Due to the smaller frame of the Dexter breed, they weren't originally a very commercially popular breed. Over the years, Jan and Tessa started to breed in a Native Angus bull with their Dexter cows. This transition then led to the Pedigree Aberdeen Angus, which is known as the Valentine Herd. This pedigree is considered the UK's premier beef breed. To add some diversification to his herd, Jan is currently breeding in Pedigree White Park Cattle, which is a very old, ancestral breed from the UK. These two breeds create what Jan likes to describe as very marbled and flavorful meat. Once the beef is finished, they sell the cuts in their on-farm butcher shop. All of the beef is raised on free range pastures and they also eat haylage as part of their diet. Jan aims to finish the beef at around the 30 month mark, and then sends the cattle to a local abattoir, which is about 30 minutes away from the farm itself.

Sondes Place Farm was the next beef operation we were able to visit, located in Dorking (south of London). The farm is owned by Hugh Broom who has had the farm passed down to him from his dad. Hugh has grown the farm into a beef operation. His beef operation consists of dairy bull/steer calves from his friend, Danny at Danny Lakers Farm.

Hugh gets between 80-100 calves a year at around 3-4 weeks of age from Danny, and keeps them in groups to raise. The calves are first on milk replacer for 2 feedings a day, until they begin to reach the time of weaning. Ten days before weaning, Hugh decreases their ration of milk replacer to one feeding a day. The most calves Sondes Place Farm can have on milk at one time is around 35. This limitation is in order to keep up with the feedings and the cost of raising them. Hugh then transitions the calves to solid food of straw and grain ration, with the intention of ultimately putting them on pasture while they mature. After the calves are on pasture, they are then sent to a finishing farm.

There were many differences we noticed between these two beef farms and the US beef farms. The farm we toured in the US was more of a cow calf operation rather than raising the calves specifically like at Sondes Place Farm. Northfield was also really focused on the ancient breeds of beef which is not commonly seen in the US beef producers.

English Word of the Day: Rubbish = trash or garbage

-Olivia, Katie, Tessa


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