Although winters are not always hard, it can be cold, and invariably wet, so we need hardy animals to survive and prosper on the scant herbage.
We have found two breeds of cattle thrive particularly well on our land - Luings, which are a hardy Scottish, North-Country breed of beef animal and Blue-Greys which are a cross between Galloway and Whitebred Shorthorn cattle and are now recognised as a breed in their own right.
These cattle have calves once a year. We work closely with a small group of local breeders who produce superb quality Luings and Blue Greys. We purchase from breeders we know and respect and have worked and built up relationships with over several years. The cattle come to us at anything between 9 to 19 months. They then live with us on the farm for up to 30 months.
Due to the wet weather conditions on our land, the cattle are housed in large sheds through winter from October to May. When they are housed they eat silage, grass harvested on our farm in the summer months and stored over winter, which is supplemented by wheat and barley.
Throughout the summer you can see our herd of around 170 cattle enjoying the farmland pastures and the sunshine, when we get it. Beef purchased from our business during this period is fattened largely on grass with some supplementary feed.
Farming sheep in Cumbria has been happening for generations. We have a flock of almost 1,650 ewes. The majority are North of England Mules and the remainder are Texel cross ewes bred here on the farm.
We lamb in two phases, once in February and the other at the end of March. Most of the ewes are housed in the winter from late December until they lamb. Once they have lambed they go back outside where hopefully the weather has already done its worst and they can bask in the spring sunshine.
We also have a small flock of the easily recognised Herdwick sheep which are bought from farmers higher on the Lakeland fells and fattened on our lower land. This breed is indigenous to the Lake District. The hardy breed are known for producing strongly flavoured lamb and mutton and a thick, grey fleece. Other than for lambing, our hardy sheep live outside throughout the year. Their fleeces are clipped in the early summer, ready to enjoy the nice weather.
Our lamb and mutton is available in our Kitchens and our Farmshops. With the help of our Westmorland Buyer, Tracey, we have been working with one of the last remaining traditional tanneries in the UK, to process and treat our sheepskins. These are then sold in our Farmshops as rugs, pouffes and slippers.
We want the best end for our animals. We treat our animals with the respect they deserve.
Both our cattle and sheep are slaughtered humanely at local abattoirs, 30 miles away. We know and have worked with the family run abattoir for many years and trust them with our animals. The short journey ensures that stress is kept to a minimum and it also reduces unnecessary food miles.
Our lamb and mutton goes direct from the abattoir to our Butchery at Tebay Services. Our beef is hung at the abattoir for 7 days and then returned to our Butchery where it is hung for up to 3 weeks. The animals are butchered by skilled craftsmen. We take a ‘nose to tail’ approach to butchery we endeavour to use the whole carcass rather than just the ‘choice’ cuts. Using the whole carcass approach is what sets us apart from many organisations and that is also why you will see cuts like oxtails and tongue on the Butchery counters.