The Berners Allsopp Estate is situated in the Vale of The White Horse, Oxfordshire with views of the Ridgeway and the old chalk horse that dates back 3000 years. The farmland covers just over a thousand acres which is divided between a block on a farm tenancy, five hundred acres arable and four hundred pastureland and woodland farmed in hand.
In the year 2000 Mrs P Allsopp and family made a decision to begin breeding pedigree cattle. It was clear that a native breed would best suit the estate due to the low input policy which follows organic principles to a large extent and the pasture which mostly sits on heavy clay with the majority of the brashy (drier) soils being used to out winter polo ponies and hunt horses.
The Red Ruby Devon breed was chosen as Mrs P Allsopp's father - Mr Geoffrey Hugh Berners, previously kept a herd of Ruby Red Devon's on the estate in the pre-war years.
The first nine females - cows with heifer calves at foot, were brought in from the local Northmoor's herd.
During this early stage bulls were hired each summer to cover the cows until in 2005, when a portion of the Riggiston herd dispersal was purchased, these included ten females and the young stock bull Whitefield Casanova. From this point the herd has become more uniform in type and grown in numbers to fifty females calving per year since 2010, whilst maintaining a strict herd improvement policy, and this number has increased to sixty plus calving in 2014.
The herd was spring calving up untill 2013, when a decision was made to change to twice yearly - spring and autumn so that we have fat cattle ready throughout the year,this has allowed us to expand the options in marketing our beef. It also allows us options in managing the herd,ie.to calve heifer's at two and a half or three years old ,or wether to give cows a second chance to get in calf if needed.
All of our calves suckle their dams for nine or ten months. Creep is introduced six weeks prior to weaning to ease the transition in the calves diet and to reduce stress,they will continue to receive this through their first winter whilst housed in open air yards, before being turned back out to pasture as soon as weather allows.We only feed a small amount of cereal per head, but believe that at this age it aids in their vigour and development .
Some cattle are out wintered but ground conditions mean most will be in from december until early march,with all fodder and bedding being home grown.
Our aim is to produce Pedigree Ruby Red Devon's with viable commercial attributes while keeping the best qualities of the breed;Docility,Easy calving,milk,Mothering and Forage Conversion.