THE NI Dexter Cattle Group rounded off its summer events with a visit to Ballyboley Dexters on Friday, August 19, by kind invitation of the Alexander family.
A pleasant, warm evening provided the ideal opportunity for a barbecue, consisting of the Alexander family’s own Dexter beef, whilst overlooking the picturesque coastline of Donaghadee, County Down.
After a fantastic barbecue of home reared Dexter beef burgers and sausages, host Stephen Alexander welcomed everyone to Orlock Farm, which the family has recently taken on the tenancy from the National Trust.
Orlock Farm has been converted by the Alexander family from intensive arable production. The 55-acre site has now been sown in herbal leys and multispecies swards using min-till cultivation methods.
Stephen also introduced the group to each member of the Alexander family – Lorraine, Hannah, Matthew and Naomi, and explained each of their roles within the family business, which markets their Pasture For life certified Dexter beef through a boxed beef scheme, some local markets and some local restaurants.
After explaining how the farm to fork business operates, Stephen discussed the recent conversion of Orlock Farm, and the future plans to use their herd of pedigree Dexter cattle to manage the farm using regenerative farming techniques.
This involves the principle of mob grazing, which will improve overall soil health and habitat for wildlife.
After viewing some of the grazing paddocks and learning about the various species of grass in each, the group headed to see the breeding herd of cows, calves and stock bull. Many of these cows have been home-bred over the past number of years and are registered under the Ballyboley prefix.
The group was very impressed with the quality of cattle on view, many with calves at foot, which seemed undeterred by the large amount visitors.
Lastly, Stephen took the group to see some of his silage fields, which were also sown out in a herbal ley. He explained how silage making would have to be more exact than traditional ryegrass leys but the feeding value would be a lot higher than traditional silage.
The NI Dexter Cattle Group would like to express its thanks to the Alexander family for a very informative visit and a delicious barbecue.
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