Native Breeds Act Now!!!
I was shocked today to receive a leaflet promoting Morrison/Woodhead Bros Traditional Breeds scheme. It appears that they are in search of Native Breeds to supply beef for their stores. Now don’t get me wrong the scheme looks like a good idea from a distance, but and I say but!
As I’m sure many of you will agree the positive effects that supermarkets especially Wm Morrison have had on the quality of British Meat with their processing facilities capable of slaughtering and butchering 360 cattle a day, can be written on a postage stamp and this is my primary concern with this scheme. Many of us have spent years and years refining our production techniques to produce and excellent product, weather that be Lincoln Reds, Longhorns, Shorthorns or any of our other fabulous native breeds.
Now from the outside this new scheme looks like it could be the recognition that everybody has been looking for, this is where I beg to differ. The very nature of the way that companies such as Woodhead Bros is going to be the down fall of it.
The beef from native breeds is some of the best quality beef in the world. But there is no single key behind it. so much effects it. It’s not as simple as just the fact that it is a native breed, if only it was! It is the combination of many factors, the slow growing of the breed, many herds are small and well managed, the varied diet of the animal, the fact that they are often taken to the abattoir individually or in small groups by ones own transport, more often than not slaughtered, butchered and retailed by small family companies. All of these things make up the chain of production of an excellent product.
As with the production of beef in general, you encourage large scale production and corners start to get cut and parts of the chain start to get passed by in the name of money.
So as a result of a scheme such as this the keeping of native breeds will be encouraged, a good thing? well in this case no, I don’t think so! What can be the positives to come out of the encouragement to keep large numbers of native breeds, to encourage a quicker finishing time, to process large groups of animals at a time, to treat them as run of the mill beef by hot boning them, no maturation, processing and packing them in mass production and piling them up on supermarket shelves all be it as their named breeds.
The only out come of this that I can see, other than financial is to cheapen the name of our cherished native breeds. Many people have spent years getting the the recognition they now have and that will all be lost by letting them go through a scheme like this.
We all know what springs into our mind when we think of supermarket meat, and the bulk of this is not caused by inferior cattle it is from the processing system they go through. Do we want this for our native breeds, do we want to ruin everything we have worked for!
I can think of nothing worse than someone going into Morrison’s and purchasing a piece of beef labeled as Longhorn and it being like every other piece they have had and thinking if that’s what Longhorn is like then I wont bother next time, because that is what will happen!
This will be the direct result of this and I cant believe how many cattle societies are supporting this, it is not a good thing, it will destroy all the hard work people have put in. It will take away your niches, It will take away your exclusivity!
Now is the time to act, Native Breeds should stand together, and appose this scheme before it does us damage.