I am sitting writing this on National Meadow Day. The word meadow derives from the 7th century word ‘mead’ and describes species rich grasslands that have the power to support a myriad of life. Since 1940s, the UK has seen a 97% decrease in these iconic and environmentally crucial areas; that equates to 7.5 million acres. In the UK, more conservation critical species are associated with grasslands than any other habitat.
Grazing livestock appropriately with conservation in mind is at the heart of what we do. We almost solely graze our sheep on this important natural resource. Our sheep’s grazing patterns helps these areas flourish. Next time you are walking through a field, take a closer look at what is there – it is truly fascinating!
The UK has over 60 sheep breeds with Ryeland being one of the oldest. Our Ram, Zebedee, is a Ryeland. Queen Elizabeth I was a strong supporter of the Ryeland and helped it to gain popularity in the 16th Century, after saying she would only wear clothing made from Ryeland fleece! The breed became less popular in the 1970s, as supermarkets favoured the faster growing, more commercial continental breeds. Ryelands have now made it off the Rarebreeds list, becoming more popular with pasture based and organic farmers, due to the Ryeland’s ability to produce lambs on grass alone. Although Ryelands might be slower growing than a more commercial breed we think this is a more sustainable way of farming and it certainly improves the flavour of the meat!