Home-grown Feeds… About Farming in Wakefield

Grass Silaging at Blacker Hall Farm, Wakefield
…farming in Wakefield, by the side of the M1!
Home-grown animal feeds best for our award-winning
meat at Blacker Hall.

This year the amazing sunny spell has provided the ideal conditions for a plentiful harvest of grass silage! It’s been all hands on deck, even Edward has been torn away from the Farm Shop to lend a hand!

The majority of our feed crops are home-grown in the fields around Blacker Hall, including grass, wheat, barley and maize. We feed this to the cattle when we bring them indoors over the Winter months, and as part of their finishing diet once they are almost fully grown. The result of this hard work is superior quality meat that is consistent and our butchers job is made easier. The right amount of muscular development and fat cover, giving our customers the quality they demand.

Sometimes people ask “Where’s the farm?”, we find this interesting as the Farm Shop is located in a rural area and surrounded by fields! However, these are mostly full of feed crops and often the animals are grazing further away and obscured by woods an foliage. We aren’t a petting farm, we focus firmly on creating the right environment for the animals to thrive all year round. This means lots of heavy arable farm work, to produce the animal feed for the Winter and finishing diet, and ensuring the resulting meat quality lives up to the award-winning standard we strive for.

Edward Garthwaite... farming in Wakefield - Blacker Hall FarmJune 2013 Grass Silage Harvest…
We have now cut all the grass in the fields around the Farm Shop here at Blacker Hall. Today you will see the convoy of tractors and trailers have been whizzing past the shop and around the Cedar Court hotel as they frantically tip off their loads at Broad Cut. Fingers crossed we can get it all picked up before the weather breaks!

Today Edward traded his shirt and tie for a pair of mucky boots to help out. If the truth be known… he looks forward to silage time every year so he can get behind the wheel of a tractor!

Edward says… “there’s something extremely satisfying about getting on the tractor at silage time, it reminds me of when I was a young lad and farming full-time. I don’t need much of an excuse to get my hands dirty on the farm, especially at silage time the pressure is always on to keep up with the forager and other drivers!”.

The grass is mown using a large mower towed behind a tractor, it’s then raked into wide rows and then picked up using a forager harvester. The forager blows the grass into high sided trailers and then transported back to the farmyard. We then tip the grass into large three sided bays called silage clamps, it is rolled and flattened until the clamps are full. It is then sheeted over to keep everything tightly packed and this begins to ferment. By the time the animals are brought indoors for the Winter the silage will be ready to mix with the other cereals in their high protein, nutritionally balanced diet.

This year there is so much grass we are hoping there is space for it all! Today John Garthwaite, Edward’s father, commented that “the cows and calves in the fields are flourishing on the ripe grass. The cows have plenty of milk and the calves are growing perfectly… it’s great to see them doing so well.”