If you have not tried Sussex beef then you are indeed missing out on a hidden secret of Sussex. Sussex cattle are a historic breed of the High Weald and were recorded by the Normans in 1066 when they invaded England. Its a close as you will ever get to the best flavoured and tenderised beef in the country, including Aberdeen Angus.
Sussex cattle are a red breed of beef cattle from the Weald. Descended from the draught oxen long used on the Weald they were selectively bred from the late 18th century to form a modern beef breed which is now used in many countries around the world. They have a thin summer coat and many sweat glands, but grow a thick coat in winter, so they are suited to both hot summers and cold winters. They have a placid temperament but can be very stubborn when they want to be.
The Sussex has been an English breed for hundreds of years and has developed its special characteristics to the soil on which it has been raised for a lengthy period of time and under conditions which have confirmed its inherent good qualities. It is on account of its ancient lineage that Sussex Cattle are so prepotent and stamp their qualities in no uncertain fashion while, as from the first the colour has always been a mahogany red this colour does not vary and is dominant in calves sired by a Sussex bull from other cows.
Originally and for many generations the Sussex were a draught breed and it is from the result of hard work in the plough, the wagon, and in the timber tugs that they attained their hardy constitutions and a frame of such symmetrical proportions that when steers of the breed had finished with the yoke it was little or no trouble to feed them to great weights of excellent beef.
Mr. Henry Rigden, in his article on the breed in the Journal of the Royal Agricultural Society for 1908 says:
“Early in the 18th century the Wealds of Kent and Sussex were the centre of the great iron industry and the extensive forest of Anderida was denuded of its oaks to feed the large furnaces of Mayfield, Lamberhurst, and other places in the district.”
“The strong boned Sussex steers were particularly well adapted for the haulage of this timber through the soft undrained tracks of the partially cleared forest.”
Coopers Farm in Hadlow Down are proud to continue the tradition of running a pedigree Sussex herd and encourage people to try Sussex beef as an alternative to your purchases from the supermarket. Supporting local farming to produce local food for local people.
Coopers Farm is open every weekend and other times by appointment for farm direct sales of its ’28 day hung’ Sussex Beef. To review all available produce please go to the farms website www.coopersfarm.com
Every year the end of April our pedigree Sussex beef herd are released onto the sweet Spring grass.
It’s also at this time we sort out our animals into A and B group. The A group are our breeding animals and are normally with calf at foot. This year we are adding some new stock into the herd. This will be their first calving in Spring 2017. The B group are our fatteners or yearlings who cannot go against the bull because they are too young. These animals are taken off site to another farm holding to ensure extra fattening.
We also give our A team a vitamin tablet known as a bolus. This is completely organic and ensures our animals have all the vitamins and minerals for healthy beef production. These bolus slow release over 6 months the necessary minerals such as cooper, selenium, cobalt and magnesium.
But the real pleasure is seeing the cows dance their way onto the Spring grass. The animals are genuinely pleased to be outside (just as they are to come in during winter) and race up the field mooing away. It is therefore a great pleasure to share this with our readers so you can see how happy they are.
For more information on Coopers Farm please visit our website www.coopersfarm.com or join our facebook page.
The Coopers Farm ‘ducks’ are pleased to be joined by two Aylesbury Drakes to assist with breeding against our existing Cherry Valley ducks. As some of our readers will know Cherry Valley ducks are known for their exceptional good egg laying skills (over 300 eggs per annum), whilst the Aylesbury duck are known for their white duck meat and favoured by restaurants. The aim is to breed the Aylesbury duck against a Cherry Valley duck to create the ultimate egg laying / meat producing ‘Cherry Aylesbury’ duck as the ‘Duck Commander’ aka Joe Love would say.
Joe explained that its been real hunt to find two male Aylesbury drakes to breed with the farms Cherry Valley ducks. We had to go to Hampshire to find these drakes. Its great to finally put them all together. Hopefully, customers will appreciate the eggs but more importantly love the meat.
The new additions to our duck flock have settled in well and are getting used to being with our Light Sussex chickens. As the Drakes settle in we are hoping the Cherry Valley ducks will produce fertilised eggs which we will incubate in the next month or so. It will take a further 6 -8 weeks before they will be ready for the table. We welcome any duck recipes to be submitted for inclusion on this website.
The history of Aylesbury’s Ducks:
The Aylesbury duck is a breed of domesticated duck, bred mainly for its meat and appearance. It is a large duck with pure white plumage, a pink bill, orange legs and feet, an unusually large keel, and a horizontal stance with its body parallel to the ground. The precise origins of the breed are unclear, but raising white ducks became popular in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire in the 18th century owing to the demand for white feathers as a filler for quilts. Over the 19th century selective breeding for size, shape and colour led to the famous Aylesbury duck.
Duck rearing became a major industry in Aylesbury in the 19th century. The ducks were bred on farms in the surrounding countryside. Fertilised eggs were brought into the town’s “Duck End”, where local residents would rear the ducklings in their homes. The opening of a railway to Aylesbury in 1839 enabled cheap and quick transport to the markets of London, and duck rearing became highly profitable.
The Coopers Farm team is relieved and pleased to announce that the final calf of the season has survived after a difficult birth whereby the calf was stuck in Mum.
The heifer in question had been in labour for a number of hours and it was noticed that she was not progressing the birth of the calf. Once it was noticed that the Mum was exhausted and unable to continue Michael stepped in with help from Chris and Freddie to pull out the calf with the help of calving ropes. At first glance it look dead then suddenly the calf took its first breath.
It was then a race to get the calf dry and warm. Unfortunately, the Mum was also exhausted and was unable to help the calf as they normally do. The calf also had fluid on the lungs and between Freddie and Michael the calf was held upside down and the calf massaged to release the fluid. Thankfully, the calf reacted and coughed up a load of fluid. This gave it a fighting chance but it was extremely weak. We moved it to a calving pen along with Mum who was shaking from the trauma. The Mum had shown no interest in the calf. It was therefore decided by the team to dry the calf off and get some emergency colostrum into it to give the calf a fighting chance. The calf reacted positively but was still too weak to get up on its feet. It was then down to a rotation of checks through the night to check on both Mum and calf.
At the midnight feed the calf had 1.5 litres of colostrum and Mum had calmed down but was still not interested in the calf. At 5.30am the calf was hungry and had become strong enough to get on its feet. This allowed Michael to direct the calf onto Mum’s teats and take its first drink of natural colostrum. Thankfully the Mum had calmed down and the calf fed naturally for about 30 minutes. Michael left Mum and calf alone. At the 8.30am check the calf appeared to not be hungry and Mum was having food.
As you can see from the video if was not for the quick intervention then there is a very real chance that the Mum and the calf would have died.
Thankfully, that was not the case and we can report that Mum and calf are doing fine. But the calf is massive!!
Welcome to our new Gloucester Old Spot piglets born on Good Friday ready for the Easter Weekend. The Coopers Farm team had been watching our sow for quite a few weeks eagerly waiting for her to show signs of going into labour ( nesting, milk production)
The sow was checked in the morning and no signs were noted. By the evening when the sow was checked it was noted that she was producing milk. The young farmers (Katie, Lily and Joe) were called to help with the imminent arrival. The first piglet arrived about supper time with lots of excitement from the team. The sow needed assistance to deliver 2 of the piglets as she was having difficulty due to them being in the breach position.
Our sow gave birth to 11 piglets. Sadly 1 died at birth and the other was crushed during the labour process. The remaining 9 piglets are all thriving and our sow is proving what a fantastic mother she is.
As the sun rises earlier every morning and the weekend brings a change of the clocks the farm is in full swing for spring. Our heifers are in the middle of calving, our sow is about to give birth, eggs are due for hatching, and we are busy preparing and planting vegetable beds. With the drying of the land we will also begin essential maintenance of our fencing and tending to our fields which will ensure our cattle will have good sweet grass to graze on for the summer. As we change seasons from Winter to Spring the farm sees a change in activity and the types of jobs we do on the farm.
The Coopers Farm team are pleased to announce that we will be attending the Heathfield and District Agricultural Show on 28th May 2016. We will be located in the Farmers’ Market area selling our fresh beef, pork and eggs.
The whole team will be on hand to answer any questions you have regarding our animals and how we go about organic farming. We will also have a competition for our younger visitors plus free fridge magnets to everyone that visits our stand. For more information please go to http://www.heathfieldshow.org
This morning our first heifer calf of the 2016 season was born. We missed the actual birth by a few minutes, but the calf and Mum are doing just fine. We keep all our heifers for our breeding herd, so the calf will remain with the farm for the next 10 years. We will be calving for the next two months.
Welcome to Coopers Farm new website. We have been meaning to go-online for a while but with the busy farming schedule, its been difficult to complete our transition to share our live down on the farm. The Coopers Farm team hope you enjoy the new look and share you own stories and visit the farm one day.