An organic farm and estate in Cumbria have noticed a significant increase in wildlife after taking a slightly different approach to their farming.
Askerton Castle Estate, near Brampton, has been practicing regenerative agriculture for the past few years.
Regenerative agriculture is a conservation-based approach to agriculture, which normally focuses on restoring land that has been degraded by agricultural processes.
“The most remarkable thing is the birds. There are so many more birds now which is great, ”said Clara Kellock of Askerton Castle Estate.
“We are starting to see more hares and the deer are coming.
“We also have evidence of otters in the river again.”
Cattle and sheep on the organic farm are pasture for life – meaning they are only fed grass or silage that was cut the previous year for the winter.
Animals are moved from field to field more often, so that various grasses and grasses have more time to recover.
Clara said: “You always try to generate profit, but you do it in a way that is sustainable for the earth.
“Most of the time, farmland is mapped out to meet our needs, instead of working together.
“What we’re finding is that animals tend to have a lower stress rate because they spend more time on pasture.
“It improves the flavor of the meat.
“If animals live stress-free lives, the meat is much more tender and tasty.
“We are very passionate about where we are. The place has been in the family for years and years, and we want to keep it healthy and growing.
“It all started with us figuring out how to keep it sustainable, but we also wanted to do our part for the planet.
“If we can help this area improve, then its happy days.
“In winter, it is sometimes a little tricky.
“Some of the cattle will be in barns, but if they are, they have plenty of feed and fresh straw. ”
While they recognize the benefits of this for local wildlife and their meat, Clara admitted that it can make their fields look neglected.
She added, “We know we get a lot of funny looks.
“If people drive by and see what used to be a very nice green field growing with a lot of grass, we’ll take a look.
“But, the benefits will increase over the years. Hopefully other people will see it. ”
Askerton Castle Organic Estate
We started in 2002, but from the start concerns about animal welfare and the routine use of medicine, biodiversity and conservation made the decision to grow organically logical.
The choice of traditional and rare bred animals (Belted Galloway cattle and Blackface sheep) completes the landscape and is perfectly suited to transform the hill pastures into the highest quality meat.
All of our meat is born and raised on the farm giving our customers complete assurance that our cattle have been cared for by us from start to finish to produce the highest quality British meat.
Askerton Castle Estate has a full stewardship agreement with Natural England to protect and manage the farm in a way that encourages the development of local flora and fauna.
There are a number of designated Sites of Special Scientific Interest covering the Mollen, which are areas of ancient forests and through which the clear water tributaries of the Cambeck River flow.
The hay meadows are home to a rich variety of plants and animals, curved foxtail, foxtail and crested dog tail: wild grazing areas are home to other plant species such as meadowsweet. mint, star sedge, primrose and the locally rare common fern.
This habitat is also home to a variety of birds, including snipe, red shank, and curlew.
All of our meat is born and raised on our farm giving our customers complete assurance that our cattle have been cared for by us from start to finish to produce the highest quality British meat.
We have our own butcher shop on the farm which allows us to cut, prepare and package all the meat we sell.
The products are available on the farm, by mail order and at various markets and fairs. We also have a home delivery service around Cumbria
The Askerton Belted Galloway herd began with the purchase of a herd of 24 purebred and unregistered females from Ian Barnes on retiring Anglesey.
The first bull in the herd was from the Mochrum herd of world renowned expert Miss Flora Stewart in Wigtownshire.