Jonny and Rachael Rider raise Certified Animal Welfare Approved by A Greener World (AGW) and Certified Grassfed by AGW dairy cattle on 1,100-acres of pasture at Horton House Farm, in Wiltshire, United Kingdom.
Jonny and Rachael are the third-generation to be farming their piece of land, hailing from a pioneering farm family that’s been grazing their cattle for many decades. They’re helped on the farm by their four children, and fourth-generation farmers: Molly, 16, Arthur, 15, Tom, 13, and Rosie, 8, who are particularly helpful during calving season. “We have 600 cows in calf, all of which are born straight onto grass,” explains Jonny. “Our children help on the farm, especially during calving. It’s quite intense but very manageable.”
They’ve been successfully running their herd of dairy cattle in a low-stress environment and outdoors on pasture for over 20 years. “As the third generation of the family to be rotational grazing on this farm, we have adapted the grazing to have longer rotations and multiple shifts during the day to build organic matter and sward diversity,” says Jonny. The Riders also raise Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW, Certified Grassfed by AGW beef cattle, and Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW pigs and laying hens at Horton House Farm.
The farming practices at Horton House Farm are not only better for the animals, but also for the wider environment. The cows are rotationally managed, grazing one section of pasture before being moved to fresh fields. This allows grass to recover before cows return to graze again; it also keeps the soil properly fertilised and minimises the build-up of internal parasites, thereby avoiding reliance on chemical treatments.
The Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW, Certified Grassfed by AGW milk produced by the Rider family goes to another AGW-certified operation, Lye Cross Farm, and then made into a line of AGW-certified cheese being sold in the UK, as well as to new and emerging markets. “It’s really exciting and rewarding to be involved with this cheese,” says Rachael. “It’s very fulfilling to be involved in producing something that’s delicious and healthy!”
Jonny and Rachael are passionate about how they raise their animals. “We don’t use antibiotics for mastitis, and only use them otherwise for injury or life-threatening sickness,” explains Jonny. “The herd is mainly Jersey cross incorporating Montbéliarde, Ayrshire and a few Red Polls.”
The AGW-certified dairy cows are raised on pasture, not treated with routine antibiotics or hormones, and are fed a non-GMO, organic, 100% grass and pasture diet. The handcrafted Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW, Certified Grassfed by AGW, Organic cheeses produced under the Lye Cross Farm brand name have a rich, buttery flavour and strong yellow colour, owing to the beta-carotene in the cows’ 100 percent grass diet. An optional, additional accreditation to the Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW high welfare standards, the Certified Grassfed by AGW label guarantees food products come from animals fed a 100% grass and forage diet, and are reared entirely outdoors on pasture or range.
Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW, Certified Grassfed by AGW cow’s milk from Horton House Farm is marketed under the Lye Cross Farm cheese brand, and is available in the UK and select export markets. For more information about Lye Cross Farm, or to purchase their AGW-certified cheese, visit lyecrossfarm.co.uk or contact the farm at firstname.lastname@example.org. Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW pork and eggs and Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW, Certified Grassfed by AGW beef from Horton House Farm is available direct from the farm. Contact Horton House Farm by emailing email@example.com to arrange pick-up.