Acres of mixed herbal pastures (leys) have been sown, with the pastures containing a wide variety of plant species. These leys are a mixture of grasses, legumes and herbs that are deep-rooting and resilient to climate change. They have the ability to tap into different levels of the soil profile and nutrient sources in order to withstand a harsher climate.
Soil health is improved by building organic matter, storing carbon and improving biodiversity, which creates its own fertiliser by fixing nitrogen from the atmosphere. Most importantly, these grasses and herbs improve the diet of the animals and therefore the quality, flavour and nutrition that is produced. And the animals love them!
The rotational grazing system at Paley Farm involves splitting a field into parcels and moving the animals on a regular basis across it before being moved on to the next field.
This allows for a period of rest and quick regrowth, resulting in the pasture being more productive and receiving a more even manure distribution. It also improves animal performance, as more nutrients are available to them. Plus, the biggest bonus is that it requires more human interaction with the animals, which enhances animal welfare.
Our Romney and Dorset Down sheep graze outside all year round. Romneys are fantastic forage convertors, turning a wide variety of plants on offer into highly nutritious and tasty meat, while our small pedigree flock of Dorset Down sheep are fantastic at grazing the rougher areas of the farm.
The new calves at Paley Farm arrive in the spring, coinciding with the longer days and turn in the weather. Once around two weeks old, cows and calves are turned out in the spring to graze our multi-species swards with their peers for the summer months.
Our Saddleback and Tamworth pigs root and wallow in their communal paddocks, growing slowly at their own pace, housed in spacious, dry portable arks with straw bedding, safe from the elements. Our pigs are bred to the highest welfare standards, with plenty of space to explore, be sociable and wallow in the mud on the sunny days, just as nature intended.
Animals that are entirely grass-fed is beneficial to both the animal and the environment. The meat produced has lower total fat levels, including lower saturated fat, and higher levels of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), vitamins (particularly vitamins A and E) and minerals, including calcium, magnesium and potassium.
Grazing the countryside on a natural diet of pasture and forage, allows the animals to express their natural behaviours while being much less likely to suffer from diseases and requiring veterinary attention and antibiotics - all while giving back to the soil below them by fertilising it as they go.
Grass farms have significantly lower carbon footprints compared to farms growing cereal crops to feed animals. Grassland is a vast sink, capturing carbon from the environment and locking it up in the soil. Having such a diverse array of species within the grassland, including legumes, means that chemical fertilisers and the environmental cost associated with them are not required.