This year’s World Steak Challenge steaks are truly exceptional. While we await the results of the challenge, we wanted to highlight the provenance of these incredible steaks: Garson Farm in Orkney.
Orkney life has centred on farming for many centuries and Orcadians were traditionally regarded as farmers who fished (while Shetlanders were known as fishermen who farmed). Today, agriculture remains the most important industry in Orkney and provides the highest percentage of gross domestic product of any Scottish county. Orkney meat is renowned as the best in the country and is sold in butcher shops across Britain and served in the finest restaurants.
Garson Farm is run by Stewart and Gareth Wood, who own 500 acres and lease a further 90. There are some interesting facts about the farm – including details of their cattle where we source our steaks from.
• 185 breeding females split over spring and autumn calving (80% spring to 20% autumn) The herd comprises 50 pedigree Luing cows with the rest being Sim/Luing cows and a small herd of pedigree Charolais for producing home bred bulls. Handful of British Blue cross cows aimed to produce potential show calves.
• Current stock bulls comprise of 3 Charolais, a Luing and Simmental for the Luing cows and Aberdeen Angus for the heifers.
• All male Luing and Simmental calves are left as bulls with heifers kept for breeding with any surplus sold for breeding.
• All Charolais calves are aimed to be sold as store at around 12–13-month-old.
• All Aberdeen Angus male and female calves are taken right through to slaughter
• There is a flock of 300 breeding ewes which comprise of Larig type Cheviots, Cheviot mules and Texel cross.
• Lairg Cheviots run with a blue face Leicester to produce home bred replacements.
• Rest of the flock are either mated with a Texel, Beltex or Charolais rams to produce fat lambs.
• 70 acre of barley and 12 acres of oats are grown annually.
All calves when weaned are fed a TMR (Total Mixed Ration) comprising of home-grown grass silage, barley, and oats with additional bought in protein and minerals from Harbro.
The cattle that has been selected to be finished on farm is moved onto a ration of addlib Maxammon treated barley and oats with additional minerals along with wheat straw. Maxammon is a grain enhancer that improves the protein and pH levels within your homegrown raw materials to improve DLWG and performance but reduces the use of potentially unsustainable sources, but also means less food miles and therefore a reduced carbon foot print.
Maxammon is a Harbro product.
The farm also runs 3 self-catering cottages, built in 2012.
Sustainability is key to Garson Farm, with 2 6KW wind turbines on the farm, as well as hosting a further 2.