We have been busy little bees in the Homestead Beef office lately because we have been applying for our Pasture for Life certification. And a few days ago we found out that our application had been approved and we had passed our inspection!
So what exactly does 'Pasture for Life' mean..?
Across most British farms very few animals are fed a diet of pasture alone, however pasture (grasses, wildflowers, herbs etc.) is the natural diet of cattle and sheep. To keep up with consumer demand and increase profitability by growing livestock as quickly as possible, farmers introduce things like cereals and imported soya into their diet. Pasture for Life certified farms however feed only pasture to their stock for their entire lives. Our cattle will mainly eat what is growing in their own fields but during Winter months, local hay and silage will also be used.
What is So Good About Pasture?
Pasture-only diets are great for livestock and consumers because unlike grain-fed cattle and sheep, the animals eat natural food rich in vitamins and minerals drawn up from the soil. This keeps them healthy; they are less likely to suffer from disease and require little veterinary attention or antibiotics. Furthermore the meat they produce is rich in vitamins (particularly Vitamin A and E), and minerals such as calcium, magnesium and potassium. Pasture-fed meat is also proven to have lower total fat levels and saturated fat content than meat from grain-fed animals but with higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids.
Pasture for Life farms are also inspected to ensure the highest levels of animal welfare. Livestock under the scheme must be given the freedom to express normal behaviour and often live in family groups, like ours. There are also strict regulations on how long animals are allowed to be housed for and many farms, like ours, do not house their stock at all, instead choosing to rear hardy, native-breed stock that are used to all weathers.
Another fantastic reason to support pasture-fed farms, is our decreased carbon footprints, compared to farms where cereal crops are grown to feed animals. We are not allowed to use soya or chemical-based fertilisers on our farms. Soya production is often associated with land use change and environmental damage elsewhere in the world and chemical-based fertilisers can make the soil acidic and unhealthy and are made from non-renewable sources of energy. Our soil is further kept healthy by our grazing animals because they return nutrients and organic matter back to the ground via their dung, ensuring the soil remains fertile. Our grassland also captures and stores carbon, meaning less is released into the air to damage the atmosphere.
Lastly, there is the great flavour that is found in pasture-fed meat. There is no way to explain this, other than to try it! To try our beef for yourself order online at www.homestead.farm