Let's talk about grass-fed
We are so lucky here at Coombe Farm Organic to be surrounded by luscious grass pasture. We are true believers in the ethos that there is more biodiversity beneath the soil than there is above it. That is why we put so much importance on caring for our soil, which in turn, rewards us with the most amazingly nutrient rich grass. Good land management is at the heart of our business, it is a complex topic and encompasses everything from crop rotations, to fertilisation, to understanding ecosystems, but just for now we want to talk about grass-fed, specifically, why we grow our cattle and sheep at Coombe Farm on grass, and why we think it makes our meat taste the best it can.
Let’s face it, farming has become very mechanised. We certainly aren’t averse to embracing technology, but to us, it just makes sense to grow our ruminant animals on grass, as that is what they are designed to eat, and we have plenty of it here at Coombe Farm. We don’t believe in importing feed from overseas, such as soya, in order to grow our animals here in Somerset. We like to embrace the natural resources we have around us and make award-winning produce from it.
Ruminant animals have a complex digestive system which enables them to break down grass and other plant life - extracting every last morsel of any value to them, wasting as little as possible.
We certainly aren’t averse to embracing technology, but to us, it just makes sense to grow our ruminant animals on grass, as that is what they are designed to eat.
Cattle and sheep aren’t traditionally designed to have a diet of grains, only being done now in our modern era of farming as it speeds up the rate at which the animal will reach a weight heavy enough for slaughter. Being grass-fed ultimately means our livestock live longer and ‘finish’ slower.
Not that many farmers choose this system, however we believe that little bit of extra time allows our cattle and sheep to develop better textured meat, as their muscles are growing slower and more naturally - probably why, in only our second year of operating as Coombe Farm Organic, we have already picked up a handful of awards for a selection of our lamb and beef products.
While eating grass is nutritious, it also brings with it many other benefits, foremost, it being a natural environment for our livestock to live in. Even our pigs and chickens, although not grown solely on grass, thrive on living outdoors, rooting around, scratching and foraging for food. Exercising all the while. This is a pivotal part of our farming systems, ensuring not only are all of our livestock happy, but that they develop real muscles with excellent texture, and strong bones holding optimal nutritional value in their marrow.
Relying solely on grass to feed our beloved livestock however heightens the importance of ensuring its nutritional value is optimum so that, when they graze on it, it has all of the nutrients they need to grow, develop muscle, and lay down fat. With the ultimate aim of growing the best possible animal, with the best possible carcass, to make your eating experience at home as sensational as possible.
At Coombe Farm Organic all of our meat is organic, and our farm is Soil Association certified. This means, amongst other things, that we can’t use artificial fertilisers on our land, so, we spread just our natural slurry from our beef cattle, and from the dairy herd who also live on Coombe Farm on our fields. This is a great resource for us as it is so cost effective, but more importantly, for the health of our soil. Applying chemicals to the land in the long term reduces its quality, and so, is a vicious circle of having to apply it year upon year to ensure it is rich enough to yield a sufficient amount of grass to support our herds.
Of course we want to keep our livestock happy, which they are when they are eating their natural diet and spending their lives roaming and grazing freely, and we want to keep our farmers happy, which they are as they aren’t having to purchase unnecessary artificial fertilisers, but we also want to keep the other less obvious inhabitants at Coombe Farm happy, our flora and fauna. Their diversity is a measure of how environmentally healthy our farm is and we are proud to say that both our hedgerows and pasture is flourishing. We are home to an abundance of birds and insects whos existence is fundamental to ensure a harmonious future for both farming and the environment.
We are only just scratching the surface of this topic but look forward to diving deeper and sharing more information like this with you on our blog.
If you enjoy this blog, why not read a little more about our story and where it all began in our recent post; Who are Coombe Farm Organic?