Our cattle have always been raised largely on mountain grass with a small amount of organic protein supplement and organic seaweed meal. Over the last 12 years, we pioneered the use of sprouted barley grain as cattle feed in Ireland. Our research with Tralee IT demonstrated that this was a cost efficient way of maintaining the health of cattle over winter. Since reducing our herd size, we sold the sprouting unit and now supplement the mountain forage with local beans and local seaweed meal. This innovative approach maximises the nutritional value generated by our rough mountain pasture. We currently use less than one tonne of beans per year whilst producing more than one tonne of beef. This is a very different environmental proposition, when compared to the seven tonnes of grain required to make one tonne of beef using conventional rearing methods.
The beef we sell is fully traceable and slaughtered by Tim Murphy, a local craft butcher in Kealkill, County Cork. His facilities are not organically certified but Tim observes standard organic practices to ensure that organic meat does not come in contact with non-organic meat. He slaughters organic animals and packs organic meat first thing in the morning, in a newly cleaned abattoir. In consideration of animal welfare, we have chosen to use him, as opposed to driving the cattle long distances to find an organically certified butcher. Because of this, our beef cannot be sold as organic, but the cattle are 100% raised organically.
Our Dexter beef ages slowly and so has a high degree of marbling and an intense flavour. Our beef is matured by hanging it for 28 days. For those who want more mature beef, we can use specialised osmotic bags designed for dry ageing, to store and mature the beef. The dry ageing process tenderises the meat and concentrates the flavour, resulting in cooked beef that is juicier and many comment that it ‘tastes like beef used to taste’.
All our animals are finished entirely on fresh grass. Evidence indicates that cattle fed predominantly on grass have healthier meat, high in the ‘good fats’ (for example conjugated linoleic acid) that protect against heart disease. Our animals are raised organically, they are not routinely treated with antibiotics and we rarely use veterinary medicines, only when there is no alternative.
With our reduced herd size, we only have a limited supply of organically raised Dexter beef, most of which we sell to guests staying on the farm at The Hidden Haven. We sometimes have half carcases available for collection. Please contact us if you are interested.
Cuibín, Derry Duff, Bantry, Co. Cork, P75 PD60, Ireland | +353 87 8540586