This year, Beningbrough Home Farm is celebrating 10 years as a member of RSPCA Assured - the RSPCA’s higher welfare farm assurance and food labelling scheme. This proud moment comes in the same year that we are also celebrating our 25th anniversary.
Alistair comes from a long line of farmers and together with his son, Issac, you could say that they have farming in their blood. Today, they are responsible for the beef cattle at Beningbrough Home Farm, located just a few miles north of York.
Up until the late 1950s, Beningbrough Home Farm was part of Lady Chesterfield’s sprawling country estate and Alistair’s father was the first to successfully farm cattle on the land. Since then, Alistair has gone on to continue the family tradition and the land has become the National Trust’s Beningbrough Hall and Gardens.
Changing with the times
Not that tradition makes for plain sailing in farming. Things have changed quite considerably on the farm in recent years. After giving up dairy farming in 2006, Alistair and his wife Lucy made the decision to farm their small herd of Aberdeen Angus and try their hand at beef production. Then in 2008, they opened a farm shop at Beningbrough Home Farm selling their RSPCA Assured beef alongside other seasonal and local produce.
The shop quickly became a popular stopping-off point for National Trust visitors.
Their beef has also won at the National Trust Fine Farm Produce Awards, 10 years in a row. Alistair says the quality of their beef is due to the cattle being born and bred on the farm.
“Much of our land is alongside the River Ouse floodplain where silt deposits create a very mineral-rich soil that is excellent for grazing,” says Alistair.
“We also butcher our beef locally and then hang it for 21 days to enhance the flavour, before it goes on sale in our shop. We now have a herd of 300 cattle on 340 acres, all farmed to strict RSPCA welfare standards under the RSPCA Assured scheme. It’s something we are very proud of and it sends out the best possible message about our beef.”
The farm is also moving towards organic status. “We are pretty much there” continues Alistair. “But there’s quite a process to go through. We want the parkland grazing to be as natural as it can possibly be and preserve as much wildlife habitat as possible.”
His all grass-fed Aberdeen Angus cattle are renowned as a docile breed.
“This helps when you are working on your own, especially on such an open farm where visitors to the National Trust site are often keen to see what is going on. It’s sometimes a bit like farming in a rather large goldfish bowl!” he says.
Visit Beningbrough Home Farm
Beningbrough Home Farm is situated on the beautiful Estate of Beningbrough Hall, close to the historic City of York. Visitors are welcome to the historic working farm to see how the award-winning Aberdeen Angus beef is reared.
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