Preserving Our Native British Rare Breeds

We are proud to be a member of the Rare Breeds Survival Trust (RBST) and to do our bit at Top Meadow Farm to help some of our native breeds to survive. That’s why our animals are native breeds like our Red Ruby Devon and Aberdeen Angus cattle, our Lleyn sheep and our Gloucester Old Spot pigs. And we farm them commercially so that their continued breeding is sustainable, and you can enjoy the real taste of native breed British meat.

Now, many shoppers may believe that they are already purchasing native breed meat products when they are not. Product labelling in the United Kingdom is a minefield and certainly does not work in favour of promoting native breeds.

The story of supermarkets’ “fake farms” is well known. Nothing more than branding devices dreamt up in a marketing department. The labels imply that the product comes from small traditional farms nestling in the heart of the British countryside, when they may actually come from Peru, Australia or Poland, and simply been packaged or processed in the United Kingdom!

On our own farms we are proud to have native British animals, and to serve the best native breed meat in our Top Meadow Farm shop in Butchers Row, Barnstaple and on-line.

We are also supporting breeds on the RBST ‘watchlist’ of “at risk” and “critically vulnerable” animals. That is why we continue to breed Gloucester Old Spot pigs (another ten piglets last month!) and our Lleyn sheep (nearly one hundred and forty lambs this year) a breed that has recently come off the endangered listings.

Now we are starting a micro-flock of Devon and Cornwall Longwool sheep, a traditional local breed that is on the “at risk” register with less than 1,500 breeding ewes (and decreasing) across the country. They are an attractive, docile and friendly animal with their long shaggy fleeces, a wool widely used for artisan spinning. More about these new arrivals on the farm in next week’s blog.