Newly married in 1995, we moved from Lancashire to Mainsgill Farm. It was a small 57 acre farm set up to fatten intensive pigs (1200) and fatten beef. At that time we also reared dairy replacements. Mainsgill was purchased with aspirations of farming in our own right.
Being a young couple setting up, we were highly mortgaged and with a downturn in all sectors of the farming industry through BSE, Blue Ear, etc., it was a difficult time. Highly mortgaged, increasing debts and ever decreasing cash flow, we had to find a way to survive and repay our debts.
Situated 4.5 miles west of Scotch Corner adjacent to the main Trans-Pennine route, we had an ideal position to set a farm shop up. Approximately 12000 vehicles travel past daily, with peak season increasing to 21000.
A local butcher slaughtered and cut our own home produced meats in 1997. We would pack our own meats on the kitchen table and go door to door selling in the local villages. At this stage farmers markets were starting to establish, we grew our name and reputation as further markets opened. We still attend farmer markets to date.
The Growth of Mainsgill Farm
As sales grew steadily, we pursued permission to build a stone built farm shop with our local authority. Many hurdles had to be crossed, especially with Highway Agency as our entrance leads directly onto the main A66. With successfully gaining permission in 1999.
At this time we had converted the garage at the side of the house to form a small shop and preparation room. We took on a part time butcher on an evening to cut our meat due to narrow margins. We packed the meat into the early hours as we had our farm work during the day.
Diversification at that time was a new concept, and it was a direction we took to survive. After restructuring the business’ finances and new support for the farm shop, building of which had commenced in February 2001, the foot and mouth outbreak occurred. The build was completed and opened in June of that same year.
The business keeps growing
Within the farm shop we sold our own meats, in addition to other produce from local producers that complement our expanding range, and added 6 tables for the tearoom. A small bakery in house provided home baking for the shop and tearoom. With the countryside closed for business, due to Foot and Mouth, sales were slow but grew steadily as word spread. Publicity was good due to diversification being the new buzz word and being a young couple with a young family, local media supported our dream
As the business grew, it was evident the farm shop, tearoom, and farm needed to expand with the rising popularity. Over the years, the business has expanded with many expansions being added.
In 2014, Mainsgill saw the completion of a two storey extension, creating a total of 20,000 sq ft to the building for tearoom, farm shop with butchery and gift shop; and employing up to 50 staff.
Our children are very much a part of all aspects the business and its development. Our passion and drive is to provide the highest quality home reared produce, keeping alive the farming culture of yesteryear for the future generations; maintaining our vision from the start over twenty years ago. All livestock are continually sold in-house through the farm shop and used in the tearoom.
Our heifers are currently bought in at 6 months of age from local farmers within a few miles of Mainsgill Farm. We choose heifers because they produce the best beef.
In 2015 we welcomed Billy the bull to our farm, an 18 month old pedigree Limousin. In the future we are looking to breed our own calves from him, so we have selected the very best heifers for Bill to breed with.
The grass fed heifers are allowed to roam the fields until winter comes, when the cattle are then brought inside and fed silage (fermented grass).
Our grass fed heifers are reared to the highest standards of animal husbandry and welfare.
The heifers live on grass, their natural diet for the remainder of their lives until they are about two years old. At this age they are ready to be slaughtered at our local abattoir, Jewitts in Spenymoor. The carcasses then come back to Mainsgill Farm.
The carcasses are hung on the bone for 28 days to allow time for the grass fed beef to mature before butchery. We then sell directly to our customers in our farm shop, meaning we can offer the highest quality produce at an affordable price.
Why we believe grass fed beef is better
• It's allowed to grow & develop naturally, which leads to superior flavour and nutrition.
• Grass fed beef is much higher in vitamins A,D,E & K
• Grass fed beef contains more heart healthy Omega 3 essential fatty acids
• Grass fed beef is lower in fat than grain fed beef