Amidst the picturesque landscapes of the Devon and Cornish border, where rolling hills, rich pastures, and aged forests converge, resides the epicentre of a mutton revolution. Once overlooked, mutton has been experiencing a remarkable resurgence.
Yet, it's farmer Matt Chatfield's pioneering efforts on his ancestral farm and the surrounding areas that are transforming not just our perception of mutton, but also its taste and the methods of its rearing. Welcome to the incredible world of Cull Yaw mutton.
What is Cull Yaw Mutton?
Cull Yaw mutton is a term commonly used in Cornwall to refer to a cull ewe, which is a sheep that is no longer suitable for breeding. In the UK, any sheep that is older than two years is considered mutton.
"If you want world class meat, you need an animal that has walked around for a large part of its life, this builds a flavour that you cannot achieve in a younger animal." Matt Chatfield
Most of the mutton in the country is culled between the ages of three and five years. However, in Matt's flock of native breed Cull Yaw North of England Mule's and Romney mutton sheep, the animals are notably older, usually aged seven years and above.
You can learn more about the differences between lamb, hogget and mutton on our blog.
For the past four years, Matt has been actively engaged in sheep farming, continuing a family tradition that spans over four centuries on the same land.
Around 15 years ago, he collaborated with a local butcher to supply high quality meat to London restaurants. In that time, he has built up a strong supply chain with Matt becoming one of the go-to suppliers of quality meat for some of the country's top chefs.
His brand of mutton, known as 'cull yaw,' has attained a prominent presence in some of the finest restaurants in the capital.
Cull Yaw mutton - a sustainable choice
If mutton is produced using a regenerative farming system, it has the potential to be one of the most environmentally friendly meat options available. Sheep naturally graze on grass and plants, and they can thrive on less fertile land.
This means there's no need to grow resource-intensive crops, which helps reduce carbon emissions. Additionally, farmers can make use of land that wouldn't be useful otherwise. Which brings us to Matt's love of grazing woodland, or silvopasture.
What is Silvopasture?
Silvopasture is an approach that fosters a harmonious partnership between wooded areas and livestock, in this case, sheep. It involves grazing animals on the organic matter of the woodland floor, like grasses, trees and shrubs, all the while the same vegetation offers the animals vital protection against environmental factors like wind and excessive heat. Matt combines his use of woodland grazing with rich herbal lays from the surrounding Cornish countryside.
The ancestral woodland situated on Matt's family farm had remained untouched for centuries. Through the deliberate action of opening the woodland canopy and permitting both light and his flock of sheep to enter, Matt has observed a substantial upsurge in biodiversity.
According to Matt, the number of plant species sustained by the seed bank has surged from six or seven to well over 120 since the introduction of sheep into the woodland area.
Why does Cull Yaw Mutton have so much flavour?
The sheep that Matt buys are typically aged between 7 and 9 years. These sheep have covered substantial distances during their lives, leading to the complete development of their muscles. Matt's remaining task is to enhance their flavour by adding a delicious layer of fat. He does this by giving them as much biodiversity as possible, in his woodland and his herbal leys.
For many years mutton has been considered a lesser meat, however, we are convinced that once you’ve tried Matt’s Cull Yaw mutton it will quickly become one of your favourites.
What are the different Cull Yaw Mutton cuts?
All the Cull Yaw cuts are prepared by our highly skilled butchers. We've selected the finest cuts of this incredible animal for you to enjoy. You can find our entire collection of Cull Yaw mutton.
Our Cull Yaw Leg of Mutton is one of those show-stopping joints that not only tastes amazing but looks sensational on the table too. A real family favourite. Available as a whole, half fillet end and half leg end.
A proper grass fed shoulder of mutton is a real autumnal treat. Beautiful melt in the mouth meat, with such incredible depth of flavour. Available as a half and a whole.
This joint is delicious and full of flavour and is just perfect for roasting.
Made for low and slow cooking, releasing an incredible mouthwatering flavour.
The loin is a showstopping cut, for best results cook fast and serve pink.
The meat comprises a complex collection of muscles, marbled throughout with sweet, melting fat that releases abundant flavour when cooked.
This traditional cut provides you with the best of everything, with robust bone providing both structure and incredible flavour.
Diced mutton requires a slightly longer, slower cook, with plenty of liquid. The meat will become so meltingly delicious it will fall apart.
As you slow cook these traditional cuts the melting fat of the mutton gently renders down and adds an incredible sweetness.