This week marks an important date in the agricultural and farming community, Love Lamb Week, which is an initiative run by the AHDB. The focus is to help consumers’ awareness of the lamb industry, specifically the sustainability, seasonality and importance of animal welfare and environmental impact.
The Liddle family, who are Fodder’s lamb supplier, are proud fourth generation Yorkshire lamb farmers, and have lambing in their DNA. Dad, John has lived on the land in Stainburn his whole life and has taught children, Christina, William and Alice the family trade – while mum Sue, we’re told, is the behind-the-s cenes organiser. The three children, who had all left for university and extensive further education have now all flocked back to the family farm, bringing with them new innovative knowledge, working experience and a zeal for keeping this age old tradition alive.
The flock, which consists of a variety of beautiful breeds including some family favourites in the Masham shearlings, are a mix of popular and rare breeds from Teeswaters, Texels cross, Dalesbred, Lonk and Dales Mules; all of whom are grass grazing, overlooking the stunning Yorkshire countryside, with picturesque Alsmcliffe Crag always just in sight. This woolly crew rear around 1600 lambs a year as a happy closed flock, which is much better for disease prevention and keeping the flock 100% grass fed, instead of grains, is the most sustainable way of producing lambs.
Animal welfare is important to Fodder and to so many of our customers, which is why we are keen to support farmers like John and his family. By purchasing directly from Home Farm the stress on the animal is minimal, unlike many supermarkets who move animals from farm to auction and then some. The Liddles also recognise the benefits of ensuring they’re not overstocked (keeping too many animals) meaning they’re able to effectively deal with issues when they arise, like this year’s late and extreme snows. ‘…farmers we’ve spoke to, they’re all saying it’s the worst lambing season in living memory’ John told us. The cold weather, meant birthing mothers were kept inside more than they would normally for their health and wellbeing, and all hands on deck were required to keep new baby lambs warm and mothers healthy with water and feed.
One of the biggest challenges facing Yorkshire lambing farmers, like the Liddles, (besides Yorkshire’s unpredictable inclimate weather!) is the shopping habits of today’s consumers, who want to be able to eat whatever and whenever we want, instead of shopping seasonally.
However, by using a diversity of breeds with different growth periods, the farm has been able to cleverly stretch seasonality. Their texel cross lambs are the fastest growing lambs and will be the first to go to market, whereas their Teeswater and Dalesbred lambs are a much slower growing breed meaning lambs can still be ‘in season’ come winter.
The future is looking bright for K. A. Liddle & Partners. Early generations had the foresight (and the means) to purchase the land the family still farms on today, meaning the future generations don’t have to worry about increasing land costs and development plaguing many area farmers. Not to mention John and Sue’s daughters and son show a keen interest in the family business meaning Fodder is sure to be championing the Liddles for years to come.