Jonathan and Laura Chapman raise Certified Animal Welfare Approved by A Greener World (AGW) beef cattle and sheep on pasture in Chalfont St Giles, United Kingdom. They market their beef under the Native Beef brand.
The farmers have run their herd of Red Devon beef cattle in a low-stress environment and outdoors on grass since they first purchased their animals in 2011, fulfilling a lifelong dream to raise cattle. “We bought in quality heifers from good herds in Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Devon to form the breeding base,” explains Jonathan. “We keep two stock bulls, and are now a closed herd, numbering over 200 head.” The couple also raises 150 Wiltshire Horn Sheep, which are also all kept on a grass system.
The farming practices at Native Beef are better for the animals and for the wider environment. “The ancestors of our domestic cattle ranged over grasslands,” says Jonathan. “They were mobile, and lived off grasses, herbs, leaves and scrub. So, we always believed that cattle should be raised, as far as possible, outdoors and off grass.”
Along with outdoor access, Native Beef cattle are also raised with the highest welfare standards available, as verified by their Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW certification. “The digestive system of a cow is designed for pasture,” explains Jonathan. “Grass, herbs, clovers and other leafy matter. When they eat this, they have “happy guts”: they look and feel better than when they are fed a concentrated cereal and soya diet.”
The cattle and sheep at Native Beef are rotationally managed, grazing one section of pasture before being moved to fresh fields. This allows grass to recover before animals 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 more we have learnt, the more convinced we are of the importance of grass-feeding, for the whole life of the animal,” says Jonathan. “We have also learnt a lot about what well managed pasture can do for the environment. So, what started as a commonsense approach has become a committed and researched philosophy.”
The beef cattle and sheep at Native Beef are also newly Certified Grassfed by AGW and Certified Non-GMO by AGW, certifications which are optional, additional accreditations for farmers meeting Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW standards of production which offer ISO-accredited assurance of high-welfare, 100 percent grassfed feeding protocol and non-GMO farming practices, respectively. With the growing disconnect of consumers from the source of their food and growing demand for meaningful welfare standards, Native Beef found it essential to have third-party validation demonstrating their exceptional practices to a market hungry for truthful information about their food.
The Chapman’s commitment to sustainability also extends to the retail portion of their business: “We have an on farm butchery, through which all our produce is sold direct to customers, restaurants and farm shops, the ultimate in food traceability and very few road miles,” says Jonathan. To learn more and order Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW beef and lamb from Native Beef visit native-beef.co.uk. Contact the farm at firstname.lastname@example.org and 07771 740980 and follow them on Facebook and Twitter.