There is lots of discussion in the mainstream media at the moment about the environmental impact of what we eat. There are particularly polarised opinions regarding livestock production. As a small, very low intensity and high welfare family farm, we find it frustrating that a lot of these opinions and interpretations regarding meat production use global averages. This means that our way of farming is lumped together with hugely intensive and often environmentally damaging methods of agriculture found in other parts of the world. This type of food production not only leads to local and global environmental degradation, but also often places livestock under unnatural pressures leading to welfare compromises and high use of veterinary medicines. These operators are big commodity producers by default, meaning that their resulting products have to be distributed in global supply chains leading to greater carbon footprints. There is also increasing evidence showing that this commodity food is often nutritionally inferior compared to systems that work with, and ‘mimic’ nature.
We are lucky that in the UK we benefit from a temperate climate that typically supplies us with useful levels of rainfall and seasonal warmth leading to excellent grass growing conditions. This allows us to grow ruminant livestock (cattle and sheep) on our farm with just grasses, clovers, herbs and arable fodder crops which converts to meat with higher nutrient density. We have naturally high health animals with no routine medicine use. Our livestock rotate around our meadows during the grazing season which allows wildlife to flourish. (We also have several voluntary projects to enhance our local biodiversity including construction of new ponds and native woodland planting). Our supply chains are kept as short as we can. Our animals only have to travel 20 minutes to slaughter before their carcases are returned to us for maturation and butchering here on the farm. This is allowing us to develop local supply chains, with low carbon footprints. And of course, another vital benefit of our products is that they taste so much better than commodity produced meat!
Our type of farming provides a solution to the climate and biodiversity challenges.