Fritillary Butterfly Beef
The farmers producing this beef help protect Marsh Fritillary butterflies in Devon. This stunning butterfly was once widespread across Britain, but now it’s reduced to a few last strongholds in the west, including Dartmoor. Butterfly Conservation and Devon Wildlife Trust work with our farmers to help them manage their damp Rhos pastures to provide plenty of the Marsh Fritillary’s food plant – devil’s-bit scabious. The meadows need light grazing by cows or ponies, but never sheep as they graze the plants too low.
Only hardy native breeds of cattle thrive on these unimproved meadows. They’re slower growing than modern breeds, but they do produce the tastiest and healthiest meat.
The farmers producing this beef help Cuckoos in Devon. The call of the Cuckoo has long been the herald of spring, but in recent years they have vanished from much of Britain, and most are now confined to our wild uplands in the north and west. Cuckoos lay their eggs in other birds’ nests – mostly meadow pipits on Dartmoor. We work with RSPB, Devon Wildlife Trust and the Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group to maintain a mosaic of grass, heather and scrub, providing pipits with places to feed and nest, and Cuckoos with the big hairy caterpillars they love to eat.
Only hardy native cattle thrive on these meadows and moors – breeds like Ruby Reds, South Devons, Belted Galloways and Welsh Blacks. They’re slower growing than modern breeds, but with tastier meat.
The farmers producing our lamb also help Cuckoos in Devon. Grazing native sheep like Scottish Blackface, Welsh Black Mountain and Dorsets, maintains the habitat that cuckoos need, by creating the open areas where meadow pipits feed. But too many sheep can reduce the heather and scrub where pipits nest, so we make sure stocking densities are low. Most of our farms produce both beef and lamb, which can make the pastures more diverse, because cattle and sheep graze in different ways – cattle rip up large clumps of vegetation while sheep nibble the whole pasture short.
Farm Wilder partners with the Pasture for Life assurance scheme to help farmers work more sustainably and with improved animal welfare. Our farmers are committed to eliminating grain feeds over 3 years. Scientific research has shown that 100% pasture fed meat has many health benefits:
Lower total fat levels and a lower saturated fat content.
Higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids and a lower, and healthier ratio of omega-6:omega-3 fatty acids
Significantly higher levels of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) than meat from grain-fed animals and higher levels of vaccenic acid, which can be turned into CLA.
Higher vitamin and mineral levels. Particularly rich in vitamins A and E, and minerals such as calcium, magnesium and potassium.
Better Animal Welfare
Pasture-fed livestock are given the freedom to express their normal behaviours and often live in family groups. They feed on a natural diet of pasture and forage such as hay in winter. They are less likely to suffer from disease and require little veterinary attention or antibiotics.
The Pasture for Life Certification Standards, which our farmers have to transition to over 3 years, have been developed to provide animal welfare equal to the leading assurance schemes within the UK.