An inquisitive Clare
Clare is the matriarch of the Fallowfields suckler herd of Dexter Cattle. Originating in the Republic of Ireland, the breed has antecedents in the predominantly black cattle of the Celts. Imported in 1882 and appropriately enough, the first herd of 10 cattle came to Oxfordshire.
Over the next 10 years or so the breed became so well established in the UK that a breed society was formed. It is the smallest breed of British Cattle, and is truly dual purpose, producing good milk, and the meat is superb, being used by ourselves and a number of top London Chefs.
British Native species like this do not require shelter apart from a tree or two. And even in the snows of the 2009/10 winter, with six inches of snow on the ground, our herd hunkered down in the lee of a bank, sheltered from the prevailing winds. Happy as Larry and no sign of weight loss, in fact they looked remarkably healthy. Do click on the “Dexter Cows” link above, on the RH side of the Map to a short video taken in the summer of 2011.
Five pure bred Tamworth pigs
The Tamworth is a bold ginger pig and is a perennial children’s favourite. With its antecedents in Iron Age times it is a rare breed we are delighted to support. Our magnificent Tamworth boar “Thriller” and in his prime, tragically passed away on November 5th 2011 and we are in the process of replacing this stunning specimen. Needless to say we called these 5 weaners in the accompanying photo the “Jackson Five”! As for breeding sows, we have one Tamworth, one Oxford Sandy and Black and two Middle White. All three breeds are “at risk” or “endangered” on the Rare Breeds Survival Trust’s register.
Rather than the impersonal AI, we prefer to keep a boar, albeit at some considerable expense. In a commercial environment, each sow would be served and provide 3 litters every 12 months. Our target is much less intensive, two litters every 16 months is our aim. This gives each gilt or sow the chance to lead a normal life in between farrowings and to build up her strength in between.
A fine Red Sussex cockerel
The Sussex is the oldest of our traditional breeds of chicken. They are genuinely “dual purpose” being good egg layers and at the turn of the century very popular on the table at Christmas.
We have installed a colony of feral cats as just one part of the farm programme. The Cat Protection League neuter and then re-home them from areas where they cause nuisance [for example a housing estate] to farms like us where they can become “working cats”.
We also breed our own quail [Coternix Coturnix] for both eggs and for meat, and our chosen breed of duck is the Aylesbury.
Most of our industry will readily state a partiality to locally sourced sustainable food, However this is not always born out in practice. Fallowfields Country House Hotel is practising what we say. We provide real food with real taste, produced with love, in as sustainable manner possible.