Strefford Hall Farm has been farmed by the Morgan family since 1934. Leonard Morgan and his son Richard (Dick) moved to Strefford in 1934, and farmed as tenants on the Grove Estate until they had the chance to purchase the farm in 1954. The Farm is now run by the next generations, John, his wife Caroline and their son David.
We are located in the heart of an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in the footholds of the Shropshire hills just nine miles from Ludlow, the rural food capital of Britain. Our farm conprises 146 hectares (350 acres) of cattle, sheep, outdoor pigs, free range laying hens, geese and arable farming. In our Farm Shop we offer meat from our own traditionally farmed animals, which has been traditionally hung to produce tender eating.
Our animals are raised in a completely natural environment and fed on grass with home-grown cereals to supplement their diets without the use of modern additives (except where the need arises). We have combined the use of old fashioned values and breeds together with modern farming methods. Our emphasis is on stringent welfare codes of practice.
Stabiliser the ideal suckler cow
In 2005 we suffered a huge blow to our beef farming operation when our high health South Devon cross bred herd of single suckler cows was hit hard by Bovine tuberculosis (TB), something our farm has never suffered from in the years since our family moved here in 1934. We had not purchased any cattle for some years and we do not border any other cattle, but our cattle were infected. We discovered this at housing in the November 2005. We had our annual TB test performed by the local veterinary surgeon and found to our horror that the South Devon stock bull, two young bulls and 13 cows needed to be culled. We had about fifteen months of restrictions due to this outbreak of TB. We have been clear ever since, though we ensure that we no longer graze the pastures that we used to use for the cattle.
We needed to make a decision as to which direction we were heading with the cattle, the South Devon were lovely beasts, but we found that the carcasses were too large for the farm shop to handle. The joint where huge and more suited to hotel carveries than Mrs Jones’ Sunday Roast. We needed a breed of cattle that we could breed our own herd up to become pure bred whilst being low cost. Dad had noticed the Stabiliser beef cattle breed in the farming papers years earlier – a composite of four pure beef breeds, Gelbvieh, Hereford, Red Angus and Simmental – and coincidentally the breed company were holding a meeting at Bishop’s Castle. We went along to the meeting and were impressed, if the Stabiliser offered to us what they had told us, we could not go far wrong. Unlike some of the native beef breeds the Stabiliser has a huge gene pool available in the United States, this would enable us to select the very best beef cattle rather than simply having to pay over the odds for the Angus or Hereford name from a small gene pool.
We introduced the Stabiliser breed to our herd which has led to a home-bred replacement policy, and the benefits in herd bio-security as well as reduced replacement costs.
The cows were easily calved to the Stabiliser bull and the calves were very even in their type, even on a first cross. This year 2012, we will be hoping to Artificially Inseminate (AI) seven ¾ bred Stabiliser heifers using semen from the one of the top bulls in the world. The calves will be ⅞ bred Stabiliser and can under breed rules therefore be registered as pure bred.
We have 300 North Country Mule ewes that lamb mid March through to May. The North Country mule is a cross between a Swaledale ewe and a Blue Faced Leicester ram. We have decided to replace these ewes over the next few years with Lleyn ewes and lambed the first of these in 2008. Our customers were pleased with the Lleyn cross bred lamb joints that they purchased this year so we decided to replace all the North Country Mule ewes with the Lleyn.
We use Texel rams on our ewes, producing a well conformed carcase that is much sought after by the local butchers and proving popular with our customers. We used a Lleyn ram on some of the Lleyn ewes so that we will have some home grown replacement ewes.
For husbandry reasons the ewes are housed during lambing ensuring constant care and attention. The lambs are grown on natural grass species and are only treated if a specific medical reason arises.
Our Free Range Hens
We have 180 outdoor laying hens (Happy Hens) that produce the fresh eggs we sell through the farm shop and markets. Mother is also kept busy baking cakes with them for the farm shop.
Our Free Range Geese
Following the success of Christmases past we are now planning for 2012’s flock of goslings. These can be ordered from the farm shop from October onwards.