Beef Innovator of the Year
Sponsored by ABP
Highlighting beef producers ensuring sustainable beef production for the future.
Mark Crapper, New Grange Farm, Yorkshire
Keeping a close eye on all costs has enabled Mark to make significant improvements to his family’s beef unit. Finishing 1,650 cattle and 900 store lambs every year, on their tenant farm on the Fitzwilliam Wentworth Estate, Mark focuses on continentals with some Aberdeen-Angus and Herefords. He has implemented big changes to their diet introducing a total mixed ration, helping to maximise the productivity of the cows, which arrive on farm at 18 months at 500kg. Margins are tight and Mark utilises IT software to help maintain costs and efficiency. Around 32 beef animals are sold every week as liveweight into Selby but also deadweight into Dunbia, Kepak and Dovecote Park.
Ben Harman, Grove Farm, Buckinghamshire
Inspired by his grandfather, success for Ben includes producing top quality pedigree Charolais breeding stock as well as developing his own brand of ‘Chagyu’ premium beef. Ben farms 274 hectares across three holdings and recognition of the farm’s proximity to some of the country’s richest postcodes prompted him to develop Chagyu beef. Chagyu animals, produced by using Wagyu semen on his Charolais heifers, are finished at 21-23 months of age reaching around 400kg deadweight. Hung for 28 days and butchered locally before reaching high-end restaurants and hotels, branding has been key to the success of the Chagyu, providing customers with flags to highlight quality and provenance.
Andrew Hodgson, Cheverton Farm, Isle of Wight
Andrew Hodgson is no stranger to multi-tasking. Managing 400 beef cattle, 1,500 sheep and an arable enterprise, the family also run multiple farm diversifications and a contracting business. Andrew has gradually restructured the beef unit, which are sourced from suckler herds and reared predominantly on grass. Tough markets and a unique location gave him the motivation to build his own on-farm processing plant, which now employs seven full-time staff. With around 70 per cent of its business serving the food service sector, the Covid-19 pandemic meant restructuring overnight and delivery to homes across the island became a key focus.
Jon Smith, Central Grain Store, Norfolk
The confidence to invest in the beef herd at Holkham Estate was borne from the certainty that increasing numbers would bring many business benefits. Following a £1.5 million investment in 2016, Jon and his team switched from external graziers to buying 1,000 head of cattle to manage more than 800 hectares of grassland, half of which is an SSSI. The project has facilitated a central handling system, improved the arable rotation and grassland management and allowed the change to a spring calving regime. A herd of 50-plus Belted Galloways has also been established to graze poorer ground on the estate, supplying the on-site hotel and three cafes.