Tucked away in the west of the county, just outside the Exmoor National Park, Skilgate is a tiny village about 5 miles from tourist haven, Dulverton.
Spread across 500 acres of steep slopes and acidic soils, is where you'll find the home of a herd of native Red Ruby and Hereford cattle owned by Alex, who has returned home to his family farm in recent years. The farm has been in Alex's family for two generations, who have worked the land rather differently to the way Alex is running things today.
For many years the farm had been used solely for grazing sheep and cutting silage, resulting in a steady decline in pasture quality. Over the last few years Alex, along with his stockman Ben, have set about restoring the pastures to their former glory, using native cattle as a vital tool to regenerate the farm and restore soil health.
Over 200 Red Ruby Devon and Hereford cattle graze the farm on a 120-day mob rotation, moving the cattle onto to a new paddock on average every two days. This low input system, rearing the cattle in time honoured tradition, in harmony with nature, has allowed the composition of the sward to change naturally, with the buttercup and creeping bent that previously dominated retreating, and clover, chicory, birds-foot trefoil, cocksfoot and fescues regenerating in many fields. This has encouraged more wildlife on the farm with rare butterflies and an assortment of meadow birds now thriving.
“By allowing long rest periods, mob grazing increases rooting depth which in turn builds soil fertility and resilience from drought and waterlogging,” Alex says.
Alex is currently undergoing Organic conversion as part of his vision for his home to become a thriving and resilient upland farm. We are excited to continue working with Alex and Ben, and see the pay off of all their hard work, allowing nature to thrive and in turn producing some of the finest purely grass fed beef.