Nowadays, the farm is run by husband and wife, Colin and Linda McKee, who farm around 350 acres producing home-grown beef, lamb, chicken and eggs for sale through their on-site country store and restaurant. And they must be doing something right, as people come from far and wide to buy produce in their farm shop, with the restaurant serving around 500 people every day, six days a week!
To cater for this demand for high-quality meat, Colin now finishes around 600 mainly continental cattle a year, which are all butchered and sold through the farm shop and restaurant.
“You just can’t beat home-grown food, and the flavour and texture makes all the hard work worthwhile,” explains Colin. “We know that our customers care about the origin of their food, and know that home-grown is best.”
Cattle are bought in as stores at around 480kg and Colin prefers Charolais heifers, although he has a mix of different continental and native bred cattle on the farm at any one time. Cattle are batched as they come on to the farm and are fed on home-grown barley; highly digestible, energy-dense and protein-rich grass silage and a home mix that incorporates maize, distillers, bread and straw.
“We aim to put on around 120kg in about 70-80 days to finish the cattle at about 600kg live weight, which should give a carcass of around 340kg,” Colin said. “We take three cuts of leafy, young grass silage each year, which is highly digestible and has high dry matter and high protein, and when this is fed with our home-grown barley it really is rocket fuel for the cattle.”
Given the high quality of feeds used, it is important to Colin that rumen function is maintained to provide an easy and quick transition on to the finishing diet when cattle arrive on the farm and consistent performance throughout the finishing period.
“We add Actisaf<sup>®</sup> yeast probiotic to our home-mixed ration to protect rumen function and add Safmannan<sup>®</sup> premium yeast fraction rich in mannan-oligosaccharides and β-glucans (1,3 and 1,6) to support the immune system during the housing period,” Colin explained. “Since we’ve been using these feed ingredients we find that cattle get going quicker when they arrive on the farm, are more content, dung consistency has improved considerably and we get a faster finish – we’ve definitely noticed a difference.”
“It is really important that we get cattle finished when we expect them to be, as we need a steady flow of 10-12 beasts a week to slaughter to meet the demand from the shop and restaurant. Actisaf<sup>®</sup> and Safmannan<sup>®</sup> help ensure that we don’t get any upsets through the finishing period and so I wouldn’t want to be without them now,” Colin concluded.