Farming Connect Study Visit - Cambrian Mountains Beef Group

Cambrian Mountains Beef Group


26 - 28 June 2019

1) Background

After on-going discussions with the Highland Beef Group over the past year, we were privileged as the Cambrian Mountain Beef Group, to be invited to attend the Highland Beef Initiative open day, hosted by the Martins family at Gorgustan Farm, Muir of Ore, on the Black Isle. 


2) Itinerary

Day One 
We started our visit at Forres, Scotland with Jock and Fiona Gibson who own and run the local butchery, MacBeths Butchers. We were fortunate to attain an interesting insight into the family’s butchering business, which sources local meat and game. 60% of their income comes from supplying local pubs and restaurants while a further 30% is apportioned to their online boxing service that peaks during the Christmas season, and is also sold throughout the UK. The last 10% of sales is sold through the traditional shop counter.


Day Two 
We travelled the short distance to the Martins family farm on the Black Isle where the Highland Beef Initiative open day was held. The 688 hectares business, 283 hectares of which is owned and the remainder share farmed or rented. The farm upheld 485 hectares of malting barley and 101 hectares of seed potatoes, all sold on contract.  

The remaining 101 hectares acres are apportioned to grazing and silage conservation to fatten 500 to 600 cattle, purchased as stores in Dingwall and Northern Markets. They are sold finished, through ABP Perth, as one of the 150 producers that make up the Highland Beef Initiative, selling through Sainsbury’s over the fresh meat counter. 

After having our Highland beef lunch, we listened to Fergus Ewing MSP as the guest speaker at the Highland Beed Initiative annual meeting. It was enlightening to hear the Scottish minister giving a very positive outlook and proactively seeking opportunities to develop the Scottish beef and wider agricultural industries.

The meeting concluded with a question and answer session between the producers, ABP representatives and the Sainsbury’s representative, Jocelyn Orr. Discussions were frank between producers and ABP, which left no illusion that more was required for the sustainability of beef production.

Our day came to an end with a kind invitation from the chairman of the Highland Beef Initiative, David Whiteford, to a barbeque and a tour of his farm Castlecraig, close to Nigg, which overlooked the Cromarty and Moray Firth.


Day Three 
A day of travel, and contemplating the next steps for our group, Cambrian Mountain Beef.


3) Next Steps

Since returning we are looking into the online boxing of beef. Five younger members of the group are now attending butchery classes to achieve a greater knowledge of the wider beef chain and up-skilling to complement our future endeavours for Cambrian Mountain Beef. Also, we have received expert guidance from people employed within the Cambrian mountain area.    

Additionally, we have secured a promotional opportunity to provide Cambrian Mountain Beef on the menu at a Jaguar Land Rover Corporate event later this year, which is being held at Dol Llys Farm Caravan and Camping Site situated in the Cambrian mountain area.