Terrick Beef is meat which is bred, reared and finished on sun-dried Terrick grass by Geoff.
The genealogy and genetics of Geoff's cattle have taken many decades to perfect. He was raised on a traditional English dairy farm and his childhood was filled with red and white English Shorthorn cows. By the time Geoff returned from his academic studies and work-based travels to go into partnership with his father the business was producing beef stores, still based around the Shorthorn cattle.
Pure Shorthorns are super for dairy production and give plenty of milk but they need a little 'oomph' to result in the beefy element required for tip-top steaks and joints. Geoff wanted to continue the 'red' element in his farming and chose to introduce Limousin cattle, a stocky sandy-coloured continental breed.
From these beginnings Geoff developed his beef suckler herd which still forms the basis of Terrick Beef today.
Suckler herds are a wonderful sight to behold. Where, in dairy herds, calves are removed from their mothers within days of birth, to be bucket reared; in suckler herds the calves and cows stay together. Some of the heifer (female) calves remain with their mothers forever, because each year, as the herd grows, the cows and developing heifers stay together and rear new calves, producing genuine family groups who help each other out just like human mothers and toddlers.
Suckler herds are a joy to observe. Throughout the day a group of cows will watch over all the calves in the herd while some of the other cows go off to graze and chew the cud and enjoy some quality time without the persistent demands of their offspring. Then they swap over, making sure a reliable group of older animals is always with the youngsters to keep them safe and out of too much mischief.
Young heifers can calve quite naturally at two- years- old but they are not fully grown. So to ensure there are no harmful or difficult calvings, Geoff uses a smaller, black British Aberdeen Angus bull on his heifers, saving his pedigree Charolais stock bull for the older cows who are more mature and much larger.
Geoff changes his bull every three years because he can't have a father serving his own heifers. Geoff bought Rocky (pictured left) a stocky Charolais from Brackley, in February 2008.
Geoff's suckler cows are wintered indoors from October to April to ensure they are fed properly during the colder months when the grass doesn't grow. During this time they eat sun-dried Terrick grass, otherwise known as hay! They also eat large quantities of silage, (which is preserved grass), and barley, together with grains from the Chiltern Brewery down the road. So if there is a unique added flavour to Terrick Beef it probably comes from the local beer!
In the spring, after the snowdrops and daffodils have been and gone, when the blossoms are coming onto the trees and the grass is growing lush and plentiful, Geoff opens the yard gates and together with his family he watches with pride as his magnificent herd of sturdy cows and lively calves (born between March and May) run out into the fields and revel in the joy of the warm Terrick sun on their backs and the acres of fields they have to roam in.