Rare breed revival…
Free-range broilers and turkeys, rearing bison and
successful marketing are the key topics in this
Alternative Livestock Special, edited by Simon Wragg.
Jeremy Hunt kicks off with a look at a new marketing
scheme, set up by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust,
to boost flagging farm incomes.
LOCAL butcher David Lishman buys-in rare breed store pigs at around 30kg and uses a contract finisher to produce 70kg finished pigs for his busy shop at Ilkley, West Yorks.
Now one of the norths most established accredited butchers operating under the RBST meat marketing scheme, he specialises in pork and bacon from Saddleback pigs.
But he admits that sourcing regular supplies of quality beef and lamb can be a problem.
"Theres still plenty of opportunity for farmers to become more involved in supplying rare breeds. Many people who keep rare breeds are not full-time farmers and dont have large numbers of stock.
"We would consider selling more beef and lamb if we could consistently source stock with good conformation," says Mr Lishman.
Sales of rare breed meat are now an important part of the business since the shop offered its first Highland beef three years ago. Beef appears on the counter intermittently – including meat from White Park, Kerry, Dexter and Belted Galloway.
To secure a year-round supply of pigmeat Mr Lishman now buys stores from three breeders of Saddlebacks ensure a constant supply of stock to be finished on contract.
"The Saddleback has all the benefits of rare breed pigs in terms of flavour, succulence and crackling, but performs almost as well as a commercial pig. "My finisher manages the pigs to my requirements. They are bedded on straw and the ration contains no antibiotics. We aim to have pigs at 70kg at 22-24 weeks old," says Mr Lishman who can have up to 200 pigs on the system to keep the shop supplied.
Some primitive lamb has been retailed through the shop and Hebridean has proved popular among customers:
"We could handle more sheep but they arent offered to us with enough finish."
Mr Lishman does not retail his rare breed meat a premium price. "There was a time when surplus rare breed livestock was sold cheaply. We pay a commercial price that we would pay for any stock and sell it at an equivalent retail price."
Sourcing regular supplies can be difficult, says David Lishman.