Chatsworth meat sales soaring as shoppers think local and new technology drives farming improvements
With patterns of consumer demand changing during the pandemic, Chatsworth’s farming operation is developing a new approach to locally and sustainably produced meat.
With more than 3,300 sheep and 300 sucklercows, the business is now selling more beef and lamb to the local community than ever before, through a supply chain of pubs, restaurants and local butchers, including its own award-winning estate farm shop.
Manager David Howlett said: “It’s been a really positive year for us, despite what’s going on, and we’ve made a lot of progress in terms of the products we are selling and the performance of the enterprises.
“The farm shop business is going really well and demand has definitely grown during the pandemic. I must admit I now nervously answer the weekly call from the butchery as we now have to keep up with that demand.”
“The proof is in the customer and people are increasingly coming to the shop and café with more awareness of the type of meat they want to buy. We have worked extremely hard to produce the product that our customers desire.”
The estate farms team has focused its response on rearing animals as naturally as possible from forage, grassland, and other feed grown on the estate.
This has included growing more grass and forage by rotating animals between fields, and growing feed on the farm’s arable unit alongside consumer produce.
David said: “We took on the challenge as a team to reduce our spending on bought-in feeds, to increase both sustainability and profit, and developed a plan to achieve this. Our goal effectively is to create a closed loop.”
The change is also being driven by technology, as the estate is one of the first in the country to begin using a new farm management software from AgriWebb.
The farming team uses the mobile app to easily record large amounts of information about their animals and the land they graze, so they can immediately understand which are their top performing animals when it comes to factors such as age, weight gain and health records.
That data helps to make better-informed decisions about their next steps.
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