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Pasture Fed - the natural choice.

Posted: Thursday 20th August 2015 by WoodsideJon

Highland cattle, Chris MaguireHighland cattle, Chris Maguire

The Trust has recently joined the Pasture Fed Livestock Association, a small but growing organisation who actively promotes the benefits of meat reared on a totally natural diet. The synergy between our work at Woodside and them is perhaps obvious, however let’s look at the benefits of such a system for the consumer, environment and the animals.

For the consumer the benefits of pasture fed meat are many; it has a lower saturated fat content, yet is higher in omega-3 fatty acids, higher in vitamin E and B and higher in the minerals calcium, magnesium and potassium. As well as being healthier, pasture fed meat tastes great! By eating a grass diet the animals grow slowly, maturing naturally which has an amazing influence on the flavour. Our own meat box scheme is supported by many repeat customers who, once they have tried our beef and lamb, tell us that it is far tastier than intensively reared, grain fed meat that is so common these days.

So, what are the benefits to the environment of eating meat reared on a grass based diet? Within the Trust our animals are kept to enable us to graze our nature reserves to enhance their conservation value, however the Woodside Farm Project has a wider focus than our own land; we want to demonstrate that agricultural production and wildlife conservation can work together. We hope that through this work other farmers can see the benefits and adopt them, truly living landscapes in action. Such benefits include less use of artificial fertilisers and herbicides and less reliance on imported soya and palm products, which can lead to the destruction of native tropical forest. In recent years there has been a huge increase in the amount of maize grown in the UK. This is used to make bio-fuels and as feed for cattle. A big issue with this crop is that it is very shallow rooted and leaves soil exposed to erosion, creating more potential for flooding and a loss of precious topsoil. Permanent pasture not only helps limit erosion and flooding but also allows soils to heal though deep rooting grasses and plants and the natural fertilisation of the ground through animals dung.

The animals also benefit from being pasture fed and outdoors for all of their lives. Our own cattle and sheep are native breeds, chosen for their hardy traits. Even in the depths of winter they will shun the perceived comfort of a barn for being outside and as long as they have a diet grass and in winter hay, grown on our own reserves, have very few health problems.

So, all in all pasture is better for everything - the animals within the system, the environment, both on a local and global level and for the consumer. We are currently working though an accreditation process for the Association that will allow us to label our meat boxes as pasture fed as well as promoting our products to new customers.


 

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