Farmer Matt Smith Furthers Deer Enterprise
Cornish farmers New Zealand-born world shearing champ Matt Smith and his wife Pip are hoping to capitalise on soaring demand for British venison having recently launched their own branded meat company, Westcountry Premium Venison, Rhian Price reports for Farmers Weekly.
Matt and Pip took on her family farm in Cornwall five years ago and established a deer enterprise in 2016 to complement their Romney sheep flock, Price writes.
To improve animal welfare and add value, they have taken full control of the whole farm-to-fork process by building their own on-farm abattoir, capable of slaughtering 50-80 deer/week.
The facility, which cost £750,000, has been part-funded through a £170,000 Leader grant and the rest was secured through a 25-year loan from HSBC.
Wild venison can taste intensely gamey, but the Smiths believe their grass-fed venison provides the perfect taste and year-round consistency. The deer at Trefranck Farm feast on herbal grass leys abundant in plantain, birdsfoot trefoil, red clover and chicory.
“Animals are no different to people. If you give them a safe and stress-free environment and provide access to trace elements and vitamins [in pasture], they deal with challenges a lot better themselves,” Matt Smith says.
A chance meeting with Alan Bird, who was the chef at The Ivy in London for 21 years, at Padstow Food Festival, led to Matt and Pip recruiting him as their brand ambassador.
“He came down to the farm and stayed with us for a week and was completely sold,” Smith says.
Original article by Rhian Price, Farmers Weekly, December 25, 2019.
Photo by Rhian Price.