Celebrating 7 Years Antibiotic-Free!

Over half the antibiotics used in the UK, are used in agriculture to treat animals whose products enter the food chain.

7 years ago, we decided to stop using antibiotics all together, instead allowing our herd to naturally build up their immunity and self-medicate on our herb rich pastures (see below for examples and their medicinal benefits). The cows immunity has built up over time, and passed on to the next generation and the next generation whose immune systems have naturally grown even stronger.

  We strongly believe that our cows are happier and healthier and we can 100% guarantee that when you drink our organic raw milk, that you are not consuming antibiotics.

Below is some information about various types of flowers and plants that are found in our meadows 🌱  

Butterbur

Butterbur is a herb which is used to treat the severity of migraines as well as the length of time they last. Hay fever that is caused by grass pollen can also be treated by use of Butterbur.

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We need to Get off The Chemical Treadmill

In an ideal world the next generation of farmers will evolve without the pressure from industry to put toxic chemicals on their fields. Then the next generation of children will never need to consume them.

At Gazegill we farm as our grandparents did without the need for chemicals and pesticides. We follow nature proving that we can farm profitably without the need for chemicals.

However, elsewhere the number of chemicals applied to major UK crops is increasing dramatically (although industry claims the opposite). Scientists believe there is no safe lower dose for human exposure, and research shows pesticides are playing a major part in the farmland wildlife crash.

Banning single pesticides results in ban after ban with new pesticides introduced as replacements. What is needed now is a farming system that moves away from relying on pesticides altogether. We need to break that cycle.

For farmers to get off the chemical treadmill there needs to be a significant rethink of our food and farming systems. Producing enough, high quality food without pesticides is definitely possible, as we and organic farmers worldwide have demonstrated. The problem is that under our current economic model it costs more – pesticides don’t carry the costs they incur.

 

The world is sitting up and taking notice of the landmark glyphosate case in the US which went viral. European countries such as France and Germany are preparing for a ban despite the EU 5 year re-license, and Italy has already banned toxic glyphosate from being used for pre-harvest.

Can we transition our food system for the next generation to one that works with nature, provides a sustainable income for farmers, and maintains a healthy, affordable diet for consumers?

 

How is Herbicide Glyphosate (the active ingredient in weedkiller) getting into bread?

Glyphosate is the active ingredient in many weedkillers, including Monsanto’s Roundup (used in farming, public places and in households – it is the most widely used weedkiller in the world).

Government data shows Monsanto’s Roundup’s use in UK farming has increased by 400% in the last 20 years (between 2014 – 2016 it increased by 26%). At Gazegill, we don’t use no GMO’s, no antibiotic residues, no pesticides or herbicides.

Many farmers routinely use Roundup and other herbicides to clear their fields of weeds before crops emerge in the spring. But what’s more alarming is they’re also using glyphosate on crops shortly before they are harvested, in order to dry out the plants and make them easier to harvest.

But this is how glyphosate can follow the grain into food. Tests by the Defra Committee on Pesticide Residues in Food (PRiF) found that almost two thirds of wholemeal bread sampled contained glyphosate.

There have long been concerns that glyphosate is a hormone disrupter which can cause cancerous tumours, birth defects, and other developmental disorders. If this is the case, as some scientists argue, there is no safe lower level for human consumption.

Glyphosate’s manufacturers insist the levels in our food are safe. But a report by the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer has concluded that glyphosate is probably carcinogenic to humans“.

Glyphosate is big news right now. A recent landmark US lawsuit saw $78m in damages paid by Monsanto to a cancer sufferer. Using glyphosate as a pre-harvest treatment is wrong, and it needs to end.

However, the problem isn’t just glyphosate: our food and farming system is stuck on a chemical-reliant treadmill. More consumers need to vote for organic farming practises with their pockets, because thousands of organic farmers show you can already farm profitably without pesticides and herbicide use.

Stop Genetic Modification

The GM industry promised that GM crops would lead to decreased pesticide use (but the truth has proven the opposite), higher yields and improved nutritional value. But not one commercially viable example has been produced for the UK market.

Worldwide, nearly all the commercially released GM crops are produced by three chemical companies. The use of herbicide glyphosate has skyrocketed since the introduction of glyphosate-resistant GM crops. And these crops create herbicide-resistant ‘superweeds’, trapping some farmers in an increasingly expensive chemical race where the only winners are the chemical companies themselves.

Virtually all non-organic livestock raised in the UK are produced with GM feed—a worrying trend. These imported GM crops are also causing environmental damage where they are grown in North and South America due to the blanket spraying with the glyphosate.

Helen Browning CEO of The Soil Association says “GM is a huge distraction. It is diverting a massive amount of time, effort and attention from the really crucial issues facing food and farming – like looking after our soils. We have already degraded 25 to 40% of soils worldwide and unless we work very hard to reverse this damage, it will be impossible to feed the growing population healthily. GM is dangerous because it allows us to accelerate in the wrong direction.”  

At Gazegill, we are 100% free from GMO’s, pesticides, herbicides and antibiotics. Our Biological Heritage Hay meadows produce a colourful display and a nutritious and herb rich diet year on year which is helped by their sensitive management, our farming stance is balanced with nature and we have a real passion for organic natural farming.

New Year – New Animals

New Heifers with New Calves

We had 10 young heifers who had calves for the first time this month settling into motherhood well and getting used to the milking parlour.  Whilst a conventional dairy calf would stay with their mother for an average of 3 days, here at Gazegill we like to do things the natural way.

Our calves stay with their mothers night and day until they have had enough colostrum. The mothers (and their calves) come into the milking parlour when they are ready, as they produce too much colostrum and milk for the calf alone, so we start to take the excess off.

After a couple of weeks, some mothers prefer to spend the daytime with their friends in the herd, and return to their calf in the evening to spend the nights with them.
When we took these pictures, 6 of the new heifer mums had returned to their social group in the herd in the main sheds whilst 4 had decided to come back to the calf shed.

As well as feeding their own calves these 4 heifers were also being “Nanny Cows” feeding other calves that felt like some milk as well!

After around 8 or 10 weeks we start to train the calves to drink from a bucket and weaning goes from there when cow and calf are both ready.

 

Oops! First Lamb of the Season

When the weather turned a little wild last week, we trekked up Pendle Hill to bring the ewes back down into the valley where it is warmer and there is more grass for them in their pregnancy.

We were surprised when we needed to bring one ewe home quickly so that she could produce our first lamb of the season, because the rest of the flock will produce in April (or so we planned!!)

We weren’t aware that our tup had escaped early to visit his female friends last year, but we suppose that he might have taken a shine to a few more ewes whilst he was visiting, so we will be watching for a few more early lambs.

Ewe and Lamb are very happy and doing well!

Big Bertha Farrows – Before & After

We have been expecting Bertha to farrow any day for the last week, so thought we would share with you these BEFORE and AFTER pics.

The first pic shows Bertha chilling out getting some rest before the birth.  The second pic shows Bertha feeding her piglets, she really has her work cut out now!

This is Bertha’s 3rd litter of piglets and for such a big lady, she is a very gentle and good natured mum.

More on Bertha’s piglets to follow. Did you know that a piglet doubles in size in the first week of its life?  By the time the spring weather comes, these piglets will be racing round the farmyard causing trouble!

The Cocktail Effect: The UK is failing to protect human health and the environment from pesticide cocktails

There is a growing body of evidence showing pesticides can become more harmful when combined, even when each individual chemical appears at levels with “no-observed-effect-concentration”. This phenomenon is known as the ‘cocktail effect’.

The Soil Association and PAN UK are exposing how mixtures of pesticides commonly found in UK food, water and soil may be harming the health of humans and wildlife.

The Soil Association’s  October 2019 reportThe Cocktail Effectshows around a quarter of all food, and over a third of fruit and vegetables, consumed in the UK contain pesticide cocktails, with some items containing traces of up to 14 different pesticides.

Excerpt from the report –

Despite the prevalence of pesticide cocktails, and the evidence that they can be more harmful than individual pesticides, the UK’s regulatory system continues to assess the safety of one chemical at a time.

Pesticide use in the UK has risen significantly because they are not only being applied across a greater area of land (an increase of two thirds between 1990 and 2016), they are being applied more frequently. The assertion that pesticide use in the UK is decreasing does not stand up to scrutiny because whilst the total weight of use has decreased, lighter and more toxic chemicals are being applied to a wider area.

While this report was able to rely on government testing for the data on food residues, there is currently no official monitoring of pesticide cocktails in the environment and the only information available is from a small number of independent academic studies. One UK study on bumblebees found that 43% had detectable levels of more than one pesticide, with traces of seven pesticides found in one individual. A study of soil in 11 European countries found UK sites had the second highest diversity of pesticide residues. Around 67% of the UK samples had multiple residues, 25% had more than six, with around 4% continuing traces of more than ten pesticides. UK water appears to be no less contaminated. A study revealed that 66% of samples taken from seven river catchments contained over ten pesticides. Two small rivers in East Devon were found to contain residues of up to 24 pesticides and six veterinary drugs.

While researchers have begun to explore systems to monitor and assess the cocktail effect, these are unable to accurately assess the full spectrum of health and environmental impacts resulting from long- term exposure to hundreds of different pesticides. Pesticides appear in millions of different combinations in varying concentrations in our food and landscape. The only way to minimise the risk to health and environment is therefore to hugely decrease our overall pesticide use, thereby reducing our exposure to pesticide cocktails.

The Soil Association have done fantastic work bringing out this report and lobbying government. UK Consumers can vote for no pesticides by buying organic, so that farming practises can change across the country.

The Climate Change Committee (CCC) has published a new report on 23 Jan 2020 – “Land Use: Policies for a Net Zero UK”.

Farming and land use are under the spotlight like never before.

The 23 Jan 2020 CCC report will be a major influence on what farmers will be rewarded for doing to adapt to climate change. The Soil Association are calling for nature to be given equal emphasis in shaping the future of post-Brexit farm support, as farming and land use is also the primary driver of global insect decline and the biodiversity crash.

What does the CCC report say?

Our diets need to change and we need to eat ‘less and better’ meat and ‘more and better’ plants, a tree planting (agroforestry) revolution, and good agronomy practices rather than intensification of farming. The Committee also makes clear that delivering emissions reduction should not be at the expense of increasing food imports that risk ‘carbon leakage’.

What could the Climate Change Committee report do better?

The Soil Association state that Nature is not at the heart of this climate-led land use plan. The CCC needs to join the dots between climate, nature and land degradation as all three are equally important to human wellbeing.

The UK’s State of Nature 2019 report and global evidence of insect decline has underlined the importance of pesticide reduction and a shift away from monocultures to more mixed farming to restore abundant farmland wildlife and soil life.

In response, Jo Lewis, Soil Association Policy Director, said:


“We welcome the Climate Change Committee’s call for farmer-led tree planting, as well as their warning against further intensification of farming. But
with the global insect decline and wider biodiversity crisis, much more is needed to make nature central to climate action.

 “To join the dots between climate, nature and land degradation, government must support all farms to transition to agroecological farming methods, pioneered by organic farmers, which work with nature and minimise chemical reliance.

While the Committee is right to say that our diets need to change it should go further to recommend ‘less but better’ meat, sourced from organic farms, and an end to intensively farmed meat..”

Organic cows: better for the planet

Some say that we all supposed to go vegetarian to save the planet. But The Soil Association claim, through extensive research, that if the meat you eat and the dairy products you consume come from grass fed cattle you actually help save the planet. They say that’s because grazing cattle play an important role for environmental stewardship and the mitigation of climate change.

They explain that one of the three greenhouse gases (GHG) that causes climate change is CO2 but that Organic agriculture, can actually offset CO2 emissions by sequestering carbon, which means fixing it in the soil and that grazing cattle on grassland are a vital part of this.

‘The plants and microorganisms of grassland vegetation co-evolved with animals not just to tolerate, but to actually need grazing’, says Nicolette Hahn Niman in her book ‘Defending Beef’.

Livestock will nibble plants just enough to stimulate plant and root growth and leave dung and urine to fertilize the soil with organic matter. The result is rich, aerated soil that acts like a great big sponge, retaining water, preventing floods and fixing CO2 in the soil.

 

Another argument in the debate about meat production is ‘how will we feed nine billion people?’

Cattle are part of the solution. Only ruminants are able to transform grass into food for us – dairy and meat. The point here is that there are lots of ‘marginal grasslands’ which cannot be used for anything but grazing cattle. From Wales and Cumbria to the Scottish Highlands, there are many upland areas in Britain unsuitable for growing crops – but with good management (that is grazed by the right number of cattle for the right amount of time) grasslands will thrive.

When farmers are able to make a living by selling milk and meat from their grass-fed animals (as we do at Gazegill), you’ve got a perfect cycle of sustainability: good for the soil, good for the environment, cattle with a good life, producing healthy food for us.

The problem is, as you know, not all meat and dairy is produced organically. Cattle get a bad reputation for contributing to climate change by belching and farting a lot! (they do produce methane, but with minor dietary changes ie. just eating grass/plants and not grain that they are not designed to digest, the amount can be reduced by a factor of six).

Soil Carbon and Organic Farming: http://www.soilassociation.org/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=SSnOCMoqrXs%3D&tabid=387

WILD VENISON GOULASH

WILD VENISON GOULASH

Ultra tender wild venison is smothered in a thick red paprika sauce. This hearty stew makes a delicious, economical meal.
PREP TIME 15 minutes
COOK TIME 2 hours

INGREDIENTS

  • 1.4kg diced wild venison
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda (to tenderize the venison)
  • 1 (12-ounce) jar roasted red peppers
  • 45 gm sweet paprika
  • 2 tablespoons tomato puree
  • 1 tablespoon ground caraway
  • 2 teaspoons vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 4 large onions, diced
  • 4 large carrots, washed and sliced into 1-inch slices
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 200ml organic beef broth

TOPPING:

  • sour cream

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 160°C. Sprinkle the venison with a teaspoon of salt and 1 tablespoon baking soda. Let it sit for 15 minutes then rinse and dry (the baking soda will tenderize the venison)
  2. In a food processor, mix the roasted peppers, paprika, tomato paste, caraway, vinegar, and salt until smooth.
  3. Heat the oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the onions and a pinch of salt. Cook until the onions are soft.
  4. Stir in the paprika/pepper mixture and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Make sure the paprika mixture does not burn or it will become bitter. Stir in the venison, carrots, and bay leaf. Cover the pan and place it in the oven. Cook for 2 to 3 hours.
  5. Remove the bay leaf. Add enough broth to bring to the desired consistency and season with salt and pepper. Serve with roasted potatoes and top with sour cream.

Barclays Report Shines Spotlight On Gazegill

 

To help tackle uncertainty over Brexit, Barclays have launched a report to showcase some of the most diverse rural businesses across the UK which shines a spotlight on how some farmers have diversified to build resilience.

Gazegill Organics is one of five manufacturing or agricultural businesses chosen, and is tiny in comparison to some of the vast estates around the UK. But we must be doing something right!

Barclays press releases says “After seeing a demand for local home-grown produce from consumers hungry to find out more about the origins of their food, Gazegill Organics began selling produce online directly to consumers across the country.

As their farming business grows, Gazegill has also invested in renewable energy sources for the farm, including solar-panels and a turbine, to lower costs.

Emma Robinson, Head of Gazegill Organics, said: “We know Brexit is going to bring both opportunities and challenges over the next few years. At Gazegill Organics we’re responding by really tuning into the domestic demand for locally sourced goods and organic produce.

“We’ve diversified so that we can sell direct to the consumer, and sales of our organic food has tripled in the last year.”

Over a thousand SMEs attended the first 100 clinics to hear about the report and put on by Barclays to help support their banking business customers through Brexit uncertainty.