The end of the beginning

It’s been a long time since the last post here, closer to two years than one. I had planned to do more in the meantime, but then harvest intervened, then Nuffield travels, then a baby. Also, by this point, things had changed. A lot.

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This was the first picture I took, over five years ago now, of “my” heifers, at a farm near Hertford. Actually as it turned out, this one never came to me as it failed a blood test – but three of her herd mates did

Back when I started, it had all been for fun, and to get some delicious meat. By the winter of 2014/5 I had over 60 animals; it was too big for a hobby. Unfortunately, I just wasn’t enjoying it any more. I don’t normally worry about too much, but 95% of the stress in my life was coming directly from my cattle. Do I have enough feed? Do they have enough space? How can I get them penned up for a blood test? Where am I going to sell the meat? All of these, and more, kept me awake at night.

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My first Wagyu calf, February 27th 2012

I’ve often told people you can’t be a great arable farmer and a great livestock farmer. One always takes priority, and the other suffers. Maybe that was just my excuse for being a poor stockman? Whatever, it seemed fairly obvious that I either needed to get another 200 animals and employ someone who knew what they were doing, or get rid of everything. The first option was flirted with for the best part of a year, but never reached a satisfactory conclusion. So that left only one thing to do, and at the beginning of 2015 I decided – everything had to go.

It was a really hard choice to make, just because of all the effort, and at the risk of sounding terribly pretentious, emotional energy, that had been invested. I cast around for someone to buy the whole lot in one go, but the offers weren’t terribly tempting. In the end the bulk went to one farm, and three others took between one and a dozen animals.

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The last Wagyu leave Thriplow, December 17th 2015. Sad face emoji

I did keep a couple of steers, one a fullblood (00002, my second born) and the other a dairy cross that had ben bought in. They were finished on our special-secret-sauce Ushigumi recipe, and eventually, after a lot of buggering around, killed and butchered.

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Burgers at our local pub

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A friend’s restaurant in London

The cross animal ended up with a couple of restaurants, and so I got the experience that I’d been waiting five years for; eating my beef somewhere proper, and perhaps even better, watching strangers enjoy it too.

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6 week dry aged, 38 month old fullblood Wagyu ribs, raw and slow smoked. Plus a sirloin

The entire of the fullblood animal ended up in my freezer, or actually three of them to be precise. He weighed a tonne (literally) when he was killed, so I’ve ended up with around 300kg of meat. Needless to say, it’s a good time to visit me if you like being sent home with beef. Christmas lunch will be a three-rib roast, and it tastes just as good as I had hoped.

So that’s the end. Right? Well not necessarily, I’ve still got plenty of frozen embryos, and some potential plans of how to use them (some are for sale by the way, nudge nudge, wink wink). I’m convinced, with experience to back it up, that there is money to be made from Wagyu, which can’t be said of the standard beef industry. Unfortunately it’s just not for me. Not right now anyway.

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One thought on “The end of the beginning

  1. Pingback: Wagyu @ Thriplow | Thriplow Farms

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