Rearing happy animals
equals quality on the plate
Chris Berry looks at traditional animal husbandry and Farmison & Co’s modern approach
The Shepherd’s Life
"There is a stolen moment each early summer when I climb that fell, sit with my sheepdogs and have half an hour to take the world in. To the east you can see the backbone of England, the Pennines with the good farming land of the Eden Valley opening up below. I smile at the thought that the entire history of our family has been played out in the fields and villages stretching away beneath that fell for at least six centuries and probably longer. We shaped this landscape and we’ve been shaped by it in turn."
This short extract from James Rebanks’ excellent best selling book The Shepherd’s Life – A Tale of the Lake District typifies what Farmison & Co looks for from their producers by way of. The way in which animals are reared and live their lives matters a great deal to Farmison & Co in offering their assurance of quality meat from livestock that has been raised in a beautiful, natural, stress free, grass fed environment.
Traditional Animal Husbandry
Treating livestock with respect, love and care are qualities that Farmison & Co hold most dear to their heart and traditional animal husbandry embodies all of those wholesome and ethical farming attributes. The shepherds and herdsmen in areas of outstanding beauty such as the North York Moors, Yorkshire Dales, Yorkshire Wolds, Lake District and indeed throughout the hills and valleys of all the northern counties have always kept themselves true to the principles of traditional animal husbandry through the natural welfare of their animals and constantly maintain the spirit of raising beef cattle, sheep and pigs to enjoy healthy, stress free lives.
Tending Flocks & Heards
Shepherds and herdsmen in the stunning rugged countryside of the north of England are renowned the world over for their passion and commitment to tending their flocks and herds by being with them day and night. These are people who often think more of the welfare of their animals than themselves and for whom an outdoor life, even in some of the most severe conditions, is as normal as it is for others to go to work in a car.
When you see bales of straw placed in fields during winter, either in galvanised steel feeders with sheep and cattle eating from them or simply in stacks with sheep clambering on them as well as receiving sustenance, they haven’t been positioned there by accident. The farmer concerned has ensured and keeps ensuring daily that his or her livestock receives enough to consume regardless of whatever the weather brings to bear.
Farmison & Co believe that tenderness, succulence and taste sensations in quality meat start from these roots of traditional animal husbandry from farmers who care, know their animals, love the rural life and understand that natural native breeds still have an important place to play in our nation’s culture and on our plates. That’s why considerable time is taken over sourcing from those countrymen and women who share their own principles.
Animal husbandry is a job that is quite literally as old as the hills. Over centuries and one would imagine for millennia the men and women who tended to their flocks and herds understood that while the animals they raised inevitably lead to consumption this did not stop them from looking after them as they would themselves. There has always been an inherent feeling that animals are also friends and this still leads to many farmers, even today, having names for each of them - even though this may not be the case if you have one thousand sheep on the moor!
Native breeds came about through their location. Sheep breeds such as Swaledale, Wensleydale, Teeswater and Cheviot need no introduction as to where they come from; cattle breeds such as Highland, Galloway and Aberdeen Angus too.
Selective breeding for desired traits became popular during the British Agricultural Revolution in the 18th century when Robert Bakewell, recognised as the first livestock breeding pioneer, began crossing breeds to create cattle and sheep that were generally larger. This saw a heifer from one breed being served by a bull of another. While selective breeding is now commonplace in the UK and also has its place in animal husbandry, it is not the traditional animal husbandry that is the Farmison & Co approach.
Stress Free Environment
"We’re not against the crossing of animals to further breeding potential at all," says Farmison & Co. "So long as the animals are reared and live their lives in a stress free, grass fed, natural environment we’re happy. After all, the North of England Mule sheep breed came from a cross between a Swaledale ewe and a Blue Faced Leicester ram and now the Mule is one of the best-known breeds in the country. We just want every animal to have the best possible life."
Animal husbandry first came to the fore as an educational subject in the middle of the 19th century when what is now known as the Royal Agricultural University in Cirencester, Gloucestershire came about as the Royal Agricultural College from a meeting of the Fairford & Cirencester Farmers Club.
The lack of governmental support for agriculture on the educational curriculum was bemoaned within the group who then set about starting the college. At one time there were more students in animal husbandry studies than for any other professional qualification. The Royal Agricultural University is still very much a part of the agricultural world today.
Guarantee of Quality
When you purchase any of the meats from the Farmison & Co range you are assuring yourself of a quality product from farmers who embrace the protocol of raising grass fed, free range, naturally grown, environmentally friendly, well tended, stress free animals.
Happy Healthy Animals
"Our belief is that these stockmen whether shepherds or herdsmen and women provide us with the backbone of our business – succulent, incredibly tasty, luscious meats from native breeds that our customers are calling out for time and again. That’s why the preservation of traditional animal husbandry through people who care is such an important factor for us and why we think it is so important for you too."
"Healthy, happy animals raised in beautiful, free range, grass fed lands equals a marvellous taste sensation. We hope you will join with us in applauding our farmers. They do a fabulous job, often in the harshest of circumstances, and provide that something extra, that something unique that stands out from the rest!"