Feature: Modern day farming - cattle farmer

Charles Sutcliffe.
Charles Sutcliffe.

On the other side of the Wolds, Charles Sutcliffe keeps a herd of around 100 pedigree longhorn beef cattle.

This distinctive looking animal used to be on the rare breed list, but thanks to the care of farmers like Charles it is now a secure and sustainable traditional beef breed.

Charles has a lifetime’s experience of farming and has seen how changes have impacted on the traditional farming family.

“In the ‘old days’ a mixed family farm could support two generations of a family. But not now. Things have changed,” he says.

As a consequence, the Sutcliffe family have expanded the business beyond that of the farm. Charles’ son, Jim, runs Meridian Meats, a butcher’s shop in Louth, where they sell the farm’s beef and other rare breed meat from the local area.

The shop has become very important to Charles. He takes great pleasure in knowing the cattle he raises is being well looked after once they leave the farm and that customers appreciate the ‘field to fork’ traceability the Sutcliffes provide.

Charles is passionate about what he does and believes all farmers are: “The majority of beef farmers are doing it because they are proud of what they are doing. And the general quality of beef production in Lincolnshire is second-to-none. Lincolnshire is the best county in the country for beef.”

It’s not all tradition though. Charles runs a popular and entertaining Twitter feed, with more than 1,200 followers. Social media is now integral to the farm business and all his stock sales now come about via Twitter or the farm’s Facebook page. Just recently, a bull and three heifers were sold to a farm in Northern Ireland thanks to Facebook.

It’s a good time for beef farmers. Prices are good and feed prices have been falling.

Charles is confident for the future and is embracing the changing times: “I’ve given in and accepted the ‘good old days’ are gone – but things are much better now.”