Herouldmede traditional Herefords
Back in 2009 we found ourselves owners of two Traditional Hereford cows and a heifer. Not realising where the journey was going to take us we set out to find some land and sheds to rent and then went in search of a couple more cows and a bull!
This was back in Buckinghamshire and neither of us had much - if any - experience with cattle. For total novices we could not have picked a better breed to start with. The cows were calm, the bull almost horizontal he was so relaxed and they all just quietly went about their business doing what they do best - eating grass and having young. Before we knew it we were up to 30 or so and were fast running out of space! At this point we had to make a major decision, do we stay as we are keeping numbers at an even keel; or do we take the plunge sell up and buy our own small farm and grow the herd.
It was a no brainer - we sold up and moved to north Herefordshire, lock, stock and barrel!
We now have our own 50 acres and and our numbers generally hover around the 70 mark. We are also lucky enough to rent a few extra acres which all back onto our fields, this means we are now able to graze the herd on a weekly rotation and make all our own hay. This allows the herd to be purely grass fed and that means we know exactly what our cattle are eating at all times.
We separate the herd into breeding cows, heifers and steers along with any young bulls we might have. The main herd are rotated throughout the farm moving fields every 5-7 days; the young males and heifers are again moved regularly to keep the risk of disease down and to give the grass opportunity to recover. The winters here can be wet and our soil loamy clay so we bring them all in - otherwise we know we'd have no grass in the spring to talk of.
We now find ourselves in a position where we are at our optimum number of breeding cows, so we regularly have heifers for sale - and at present as we find we are calving mostly in spring they are usually put up for sale as from the following spring. Bull calves are, in the main steered and de-horned (much safer for everyone when they're under the sheds). Occasionally we find that we have a bull calf that might just be good enough to go for breeding and the decision to keep them whole or not usually takes place after 12 months or so. Our steers are grown on until 28 -29 months and we are fortunate to have a number of local butchers who only buy local rare breed meats so on the occasions that they have our beef on their slab our name and herd name is up there on their chalk boards! We are also lucky to have a small private slaughterhouse just 20 minutes away so all in all food miles are kept to an absolute minimum.