What is Cull Yaw Mutton?

'Cull Yaw' mutton is a colloquial Cornish term for a 'Cull Ewe'.

A 'Cull Ewe' is a breeding sheep who is unfit to carry a lamb. Cull Ewes are a natural part of the lambing cycle. In most low intensity, high welfare systems, a ewe will be taken out of the breeding flock at 4-5 years old, usually due to an udder failing, or her teeth failing, which means she wouldn't be able to sufficiently keep her and her progeny healthy. 

Traditionally once a ewe has reached retirement the farmer can make little value from her. Most culled sheep will head directly to an abattoir or to the local market where they will be purchased very cheaply, providing the farmer with very little in return. 

Our pioneering farmer Matt Chatfield, spotted this wasteful link in the supply chain and decided to do something about it.

Matt works with his neighbouring farms to take on their culled sheep that are unfit for breeding. 

The 'Cull Yaws' are moved onto lush pasture or into woodland, where they will see out their days grazing on a hugely diverse range of herbs, grasses and plantlife, boosting the biodiversity of the area through grazing, trampling and fertilising the soils.  

Not only does this give the sheep a happy retirement and a fitting end, but it produces serious flavour too.

"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 mutton sheep, are notably older, usually aged 5 years and above. 

Cull Yaw Mutton Farmer Matt Chattfield closing a gate

Native Breeds

Our Cull Yaws can be a mixture of pure native breeds and native cross breeds. However, most of our Cull Yaw mutton ewes are 'North of England Mule or Romney.

North of England Mules are a framey, cross-bred sheep. Sired by a Bluefaced Leicester ram, the dam is a Swaledale - traditionally reared on the harsh northern fells and moors and noted for qualities of hardiness and longevity. 

Romney's originate from the Romney Marsh area of Kent and are a breed of sheep can thrive in wet and cold environments. The Romney breed stands out for its versatility, as it excels in producing both quality wool and high-grade meat, even in challenging environments.

What is cull yaw mutton

Sustainable Mutton 

If mutton is produced using a regenerative farming system, it has the potential to be one of the most environmentally friendly meat options available.

As the Cull Yaw Mutton sheep graze and trample the pasture, their hooves are revitalising the seed bed in this ancient valley and enabling diverse species of wild herbs, flowers and grasses to return, in some areas tripling the amount of diverse plant life than before.

This means there's no need to grow resource-intensive crops to feed the sheep as they can thrive on rough pasture. Additionally, farmers can make use of land that wouldn't be useful otherwise. Which brings us to Matt's love of grazing woodland, or 'silvo-pasture'.

 Flock of cull yaw mutton sheep running down a road

Grass Fed & Silvopasture

Our Cull Yaw mutton sheep graze on grass and amongst woodland using a technique called silvopasture. This is an harmonious partnership between wooded areas and livestock. 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. Our Cull Yaw mutton are fed on a combination of woodland grazing with rich herbal lays.

A flock of cull yaw mutton sheep in a woodland

Slowly Grown

Most of the mutton in the country is culled between the ages of 3 and 5 years. However, in Matt's flock of Cull Yaw mutton sheep, the animals are notably older, usually aged 5 years and above.

These sheep have covered substantial distances during their lives, leading to the complete development of their muscles. By giving them as much biodiversity as possible in the final stages of their development creates a wonderful layer of flavoursome fat these animals are famous for. 

Cull Yaw mutton sheep in woodland and grass

Age Means Flavour and Texture

By allowing an these sheep a long life, with diverse diets creates something truly special in their meat. A rich layer of back fat is added from all the incredible pasture they have consumed. 

Most mutton is considered to be tough and requires a long slow cook, however our Cull Yaw Mutton is just as good cooked hot and fast and kept rare, as it is long and slow. This is due in part to the stress free lives these girls have lived, the ethical slaughter and of course of careful hanging in the butchery that allows the meat to tenderise and create and incredible texture as it ages for up to 3 weeks. 

Humane Slaughter

Matt takes his sheep to our local small scale abattoir, meaning they never come into contact with other farmers who they don't know. This is very important to us - it means that the animals are not stressed with unnecessarily long journeys or the horrors of large abattoirs.

Providing our livestock with care and respect at this stage is integral to our beliefs, it is no good putting all of the love and care into producing our mutton sheep if their end is not handled with the utmost respect. For anyone wanting to know more information about slaughter, please feel free to contact us and ask, it is vital that if we are to eat meat, we do so feeling comfortable with every step in the process. Slaughter should be openly discussed and should not be a taboo, it is a reality of putting food on the table.

Supporting Small Scale Farmers

When you choose our Cull Yaw Mutton, you are directly supporting Matt's work boosting the biodiversity of his farm, helping to create a thriving rural community, and sustaining our small-scale local abattoir.

You can shop our Cull Yaw Mutton here

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