At the end of December 2020 the college’s Arla milk contract changed as part of their “Every calf has a value” initiative. This change means that every calf life has to be sustained, no healthy calf to be slaughtered or euthanised on the farm within 8 weeks of life to allow all calves not entering the food chain to be reared as beef cattle. The college farm was ahead of the game as in 2019 the farm had already started to look at more sustainable calf rearing and had moved to breed the top 25% of the dairy herd to sexed semen which resulted in more females being produced and the rest were bred to Aberdeen Angus semen so 75% of the herd gave birth to Aberdeen Angus crosses. This meant that the farm were getting beef calves from a dairy animal leading to a more sustainable use of the cattle, removing waste and a more ethical way of raising calves.
Reaseheath College were already comfortable with the newer sustainable Arla 2020 change by time it came about, so in April 2021 the college was ready to switch breeding from Aberdeen Angus to Wagyu. The college teamed up with Warrendale Wagyu ( Warrendale-wagyu.co.uk ) and we now have a contract to sell our Wagyu beef animals to them at a premium who then sell to the big supermarket leaders such as Waitrose and have very successful beef boxes which can be purchased online direct through the Warrendale website, 24 restaurants in the UK purchase their Wagyu beef from Warrendale.
The college has used our Angus animals at college for meat use, the farm have raised the Angus animal and once it has reached the optimum size, it is sent to Jackson’s Abbatoir to be quartered and brought back to the college food department to be butchered by our butchery students and made to order for the canteen to use for student and staff meals, or to be sold via the Online Store as part of a promotion for staff such as the Valentine’s Steak offer.
There are plans in place to expand the field to fork initiative into the rearing of pigs and lamb at college. This will involve the purchase of a small selection of pigs, preferably rare breed pigs rather than the large white pigs. We have a new flock of sheep on the farm and are rapidly approaching lambing season and hopefully later in the year we will be able to send some of our lambs off to be prepared for food for the canteen and online shop. The ultimate aim is for Reaseheath College to have premium cuts of meat to be sold with the college field to fork branding via an onsite shop, online store or café to members of the public and staff, the meat products could be sold alongside home grown salad and vegetable produce harvested from the innovative Vertical farm and glasshouse.