We have opted to stay as a small business which offers its customers a completely personal service – you can buy as much or as little as you want, and you can benefit from their helpful advice when making your choice. Recipes and cooking guidance are included with each order. Everything is cut fresh to your requirements and is delivered by overnight courier.
Our green credentials
We believe that our venison is the most environmentally friendly food it is possible to produce on our small hill farm just outisde Cupar in Fife, and we are proud of our very low carbon footprint.
It has become popular for people to criticise meat production on the grounds that converting cereals into meat is an inefficient use of resources. This is a valid argument. However, in colder climates and the uplands, in our opinion, it is neither commercially nor environmentally sound to produce cereals and pulses. This is because of the amount of nitrogen and fuel required to produce, transport, and store small quantities on steep slopes with a short growing season – the founders of this business, with over 40 years of experience in the field (pardon the pun!), have tried this before. The best option is to grow trees or grass, which is what we are now doing.
Our farm runs a free-range, grass based system and our deer do not need high-energy cereals to fatten them. Our farm is ideally suited to growing grass: the soil is rich though not very deep, and its northerly aspect prevents it scorching in the summer. The long summer days make the grass grow amazingly quickly from April to September, which is exactly when the deer have most need of it to feed their calves and gain condition before the winter. Nature knows best!
During the winter, the deer cleverly reduce their appetite as a natural form of semi-hibernation. But they do need to eat something, and since there is no grass, so we bring in winter feed such as hay (dried grass) for roughage, and potatoes for energy, all from local farmers. The potatoes are good enough for us all to eat, so we do! We protect the young ones during the cold and wet of the winter, in a huge airy barn where they can run about. They are fed the same as the adults outside, plus a very small amount of locally grown whole barley. Once they go outside in the spring, they need nothing else but sweet grass.
We don’t use high-energy products such as pesticides, fungicides, weedkillers, on our grass. We use the manure from the overwintering sheds to keep the soil in good heart, and our farm is home to a great variety of wild bees, hoverflies, and other insects. We also have areas classed as species-rich pasture because of the variety of wild flowers. None of these would be here if we used excess fertilizer.
Slaughtering and butchery
This is where we really score brownie points for a low carbon footprint. All other farm livestock must be taken to an abattoir for slaughter, but we are allowed to shoot deer on the farm. So in addition to this being excellent for animal welfare, it also omits the use of vehicles to take the animals to an abattoir. Most meat passes through several wholesalers before reaching the public; even wild venison must be taken from the estate larder to a game processor and is then sold on to wholesalers, butchers and retailers. Our deer our shot and dressed on site, then delivered to our butchery to hang, and from there, after some seriously good butchery, our venison goes straight from us to our customers.
Wherever we can, we purchase the ingredients to make our products (such as oatmeal, eggs, parsley, pork fat, etc.) from other local producers; often getting them at the farmers markets we attend.
We are conscious of the amount of packaging used in the food industry, and our policy has always been one of minimal use. We have to use plastic for vacuum packaging, but all our cartons for delivering mail orders are cardboard and they come from a firm that recycles boxes, so some may have printing on them or even be turned inside out. They are insulated with bubblewrap which our customers could re-use. We only use ice-gel packs when the weather is warm, since the shelf-life on the packs has been worked out for the delivery times we use and it is not necessary in cold weather.
In the Office
Most paper is re-used, including junk mail – we make this into message pads. Because we accept credit cards, we cannot store or throw away any of these paper records, so they are shredded and then I put them on my compost heap.
We are always interested in hearing about new ways to reduce our carbon footprint and welcome suggestions for improvement