Daylesford Farms, Kingham, Gloucestershire, founded its pedigree herd in 2006, buying foundation females from the Eildon, Wedderlie, Mollington, Rosemead and Aynho herds, along with a brace of stock bulls, Galawater Bold King and Balavitchel Preferred Stock bought from the Perth Bull Sales.
The herd currently numbers 90 breeding females, with the aim to reach 100 females in the coming years, to run alongside the farm’s other enterprises which include a 130-cow dairy herd, 1500 breeding ewes, 6000 laying hens as well as 300 acres of arable cropping and 1000 Christmas turkeys and 500 geese.
The farm is managed organically and the farm forms part of the JCB Group, with the aim being to finish cattle on a 100% forage-based diet, using as little processed concentrate as possible. The farm’s grassland is made up of largely clover leys along with a homegrown sainfoin silage, with about 75% of the cattle finished on grass leys before the winter at about 18-20 months and the rest finished on a mix of grass and sainfoin silages with about 1.5kg of homegrown oats too.
Performance recording forms an important basis of the decision making process for head stockman Phil Gordon-Jones, with careful attention paid to which breeding lines are producing those animals which are leaving the best carcasses when stock are finished.
And while the figures are important they are only one part of the selection process when it comes to picking replacements, with finishing and slaughter characteristics an important part of the Daylesford criteria, along with physical structure and correctness.
Current herd sires include Aynho Billabong, Daylesford Enzo, Eastfield Peski and Daylesford Eesa, with Netherton Kimi and Netherton Beau having been used extensively in recent years and leave a clear stamp on the herd.
With four retail outlets within the group as well as concessions in Harrods, Selfridges and Harvey Nichols, any stock not required or suitable for breeding are finished and sold through the business. Prime cuts are retailed as such, with the balance of the carcass then used to produce a wide range of ready meals through the Daylesford Kitchens business.
As the herd progresses the intention is to increase the selection pressure to reduce the calving period within the herd and enable the sale of maiden heifers from the farm as well as drive sales of bulls both from the farm.