June Reading and her brother, Philip Caddy, were born at Moors Farm, East Knoyle, near Salisbury. June and her husband, John, together with Philip, still farm the lush pastures around Blackmore Vale. In 2003, however, they sold their dairy herd because it didn’t pay, and changed to Red Poll beef cattle. Their 200 acres of land was reduced to 60, which are now farmed organically.
Red Polls are a native Norfolk breed ideal for the land. ‘They are not too big, they are hardy and placid, and the meat is special, being beautifully marbled with lots of flavour. It is also high in polyunsaturates, omega 3 fats and, being less intensively farmed, is good for you,’ says Mrs Reading, adding that Clarissa Dickson Wright is a great fan.
They have 35 cows and followers calves, heifers and steers which calve all year round except high summer. ‘People are frightened of red meat, but we don’t push the herd. Lots of the beef you see in supermarkets is from the throw-outs from dairy herds, part-Holstein bulls which were never intended for meat. People should ask their butchers where the meat comes from and from what breed. Always make sure it’s British, too.’
The meat, available by mail order, is properly hung for three weeks. Mrs Reading loves the brisket and silverside in a pot roast with lots of root vegetables and onions, but finds that these traditionally tougher and cheaper joints from Red Polls can also be roasted. ‘Cooked slowly, they are utterly delicious.’ Red Poll beef can be bought direct from Caddy and Reading (01747 830385) from £7.50 per kilo in the family pack, and £8.50 in the select pack. For more details, visit www.moorsfarmstay.co.uk