In recent years the farming business at Clanville Manor Farm has begun moving over to a regenerative agricultural system. Rob Snook, the fourth generation of Snooks to farm here, is working towards a holistic way to minimise the reliance on external inputs, including fertilisers, chemical sprays and antibiotics, whilst improving carbon capture and soil fertility.
This centres on a grass based diet for all animals on the farm, including the long standing beef herd, and the introduction of pasture raised chickens. The advantages include nutritionally rich meat with less total fat, more healthy Omega-3 fatty acids, more conjugated linoleic acid (a type of fat that’s though to reduce heart disease and cancer risks) and more antioxidant vitamins such as Vitamin E.
This is achieved by turning away from conventional arable crops and sowing herbal leys, similar to those used at the turn of the 20th century when mixed farming was the norm. The grassland has been reseeded to include traditional herbs and grasses such as sainfoin, chicory, yarrow, clover and plantains. From the Spring to Autumn, the beef cattle are bunched into mobs of approximately 50 cows, which are then grazed over small paddocks for up to 24 hours at a time, before moving on. Whilst they eat a percentage, they also trample some of the grass back in to the soil, sequestering carbon and building soil organic matter, reducing the reliance on chemical inputs. Once the cattle have been through, a flock of chickens move in to clean up fly larvae and other insects attracted by the cows. By doing this, the need for chemical worming of the cattle is reduced. Where possible, the cattle are overwintered on fields of stubble turnips, kale and fodder beet, except in exceptionally severe weather, when they come in to large airy buildings. Our cattle end their lives at a quiet and local abattoir, minimising as far as possible any stress on them.
This combination of farming enterprises allows us to mitigate the impact of years of intensive farming, moving towards a more sustainable – in the widest sense of the word – way of living. Selling our meat directly to our customers reduces the number of steps in the supply chain and enables us to be absolutely sure of the welfare and quality of our animals. Please do contact us if you’d like to try some of our amazing beef – we’re always happy to show you the animals grazing in the fields and talk you through why our meat tastes so good.