Blagdon Beef is at the heart of our farm shop butchery. Great British Beef Week is a national celebration of our fantastic home produced beef -designed to tantalise the taste buds and put some sizzle in our succulent steaks, Sunday roasts, cottage pies, and stir fries!
It also provides an opportunity to appreciate the sustainability of British beef and the environmental benefits our grazing herds deliver. Here at Blagdon we have a great climate for growing grass and rearing our beef cattle in a traditional way resulting in incredibly high quality, nutritious beef with low food miles. Beef produced in Britain continues to maintain its position as being amongst the most sustainable in the world and here at Blagdon we would certainly be up there with the best.
Of course there are lots of health benefits to eating red meat as part of a healthy, balanced diet too. Our own Blagdon beef really ticks all these boxes; well-managed, grass-fed, locally produced with great environmental sustainability credentials.
At Blagdon we run a herd of Belted Galloways and a small herd of White Parks, both of which are deemed rare breed cattle. They grow slowly, produce a small carcase but importantly for us and our customers, they taste fantastic. They are reared naturally, mostly eating grass from the permanent pastures on the farm and fit in with the whole ethos of farming at Blagdon.
The cows calve mainly in the spring so they can make use of the flush of grass to produce milk for their calves. They move around various pastures at Blagdon and at West Hartford, currently the Belties can be seen in the fields on the left as you travel along the road after the Holiday Inn.
The White Parks tend to live in the fields behind Milkhope. Currently they can be seen on the right in the corner field as you turn off the great North Road towards Milkhope. You cant miss them as they are sparkling white.
The Belted Galloway bull Icarus and the White Park bull Prince run with the cows over the summer to produce next years calves. The calves are weaned at 7 months and put out to pasture over the winter.
They spend almost all of their lives outside grazing the water meadows, wild flower meadows and pastures on the farm. The diversity of plants they graze upon gives the meat a distinct flavour with excellent fat coverage and marbling.
Every animal which is born on the farm is either kept for breeding or reared for meat production. The steers (males) are utilised by the farm shop and as they are a slow maturing breed we keep them on farm until they are around 28 months old. The heifers (female) calves are kept to join the breeding herd to supply future beef for the shop.
All parts of the carcase are important to us. Obviously there are the ever popular fillets and rib eyes but also cuts such as shin and oxtail. We don’t hang the forequarters as the meat does not improve with maturity.
This is where our fantastic tasting, best selling mince is from. We freshly mince our beef every day for the shop; thankfully it bears no resemblance to the sad, tasteless, gas flushed packs on sale elsewhere!
Our customer consumption of the beef carcase can fluctuate depending on the weather and time of year. Cold weather calls for joints, mince and slow cook beef like shin and brisket. BBQ time puts different demands on how the carcase is sold with steak, burgers and kebabs being popular.
We occasionally have to top up our beef supply with certain meat cuts through Thompsons, the family run abbatoir we work with near Durham. But we have very particular specifications on meat that is sourced from Northumbria and the breed, sex and fat class to compliment our own beef. Our priority is to always source as much beef as possible from Blagdon.
All the fantastic beef products you see in the counter take a lot of skill and hard work to get from the beef carcase to, for example, a delicious boned and rolled Belted Galloway sirloin joint. This is where our great team of butchers bring their skill and care.
Between our 4 butchers Nicky, Dale, Mick and Emma they have 110 years of butchery expertise, that includes our ‘apprentice’ Emma who has 3 months!
As well as our passion for sourcing fantastic beef we are proud of the skill and care required to turn the living, grazing animal into fantastic food and we are very respectful of the animal that has enabled this to happen. Few butchers now have strong ethics on sourcing products and even fewer have the skills to prepare meat from a whole animal carcase. It is important to us to keep those skills alive by offering our team recognised training and gaining knowledge and experience.
We have just won a silver National Smithfield Award for our Blagdon Steak Pie, this was against the best butchers in the country. This is a joint effort using our own delicious beef steak that Michelle and her bakehouse team turn into award winning pies. This is all done here by hand at the farm shop. We use our own grass fed beef in all our homemade pies and our bakehouse prepared easy meals, the most popular include Beef Stroganoff, Lasagne, Cottage Pie, Beef Curry, Goulash and plain and simple Mince and Dumplings.