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When David McVeigh first started farming English Longhorn cattle at Kenton Hall he set himself a goal, which was to produce antibiotic free beef that never compromised on the cattle’s welfare. The UK food chain has an alarming amount of antibiotics circling through it. By moving away from mass produced beef, we have guaranteed that our herd is very healthy and antibiotic free. This unique way of producing beef has allowed our customers to enjoy our beef knowing that the animals are healthy and in the best environment they could be.

Once a calf has been born on the farm it will live a healthy life with no antibiotics. This means we can guarantee there is no trace of the drugs within the food chain that can be passed on to the customer. However, I must stress that if an animal is unwell and needs to be treated with antibiotics we wouldn’t hesitate to treat it. We make sure the vet assesses each and every animal to ensure the safe prescription and administration of drugs if required. If any of the cattle have been treated then we wouldn’t sell them under the Kenton Hall Estate brand, these animals would go for commercial beef. Any beef products sold directly from the farm are 100% antibiotic free.

Achieving antibiotic free beef is a lot simpler than you might think. It all comes down to good stockman ship and providing best conditions for our cattle to thrive. During the winter months our cattle can relax within a roundhouse that was designed and built on the farm to increase animal welfare standards. A roundhouse is a circular building that is divided into pens with integrated water troughs and feed troughs running around the outside circumference. The airflow within the roundhouse can be controlled through a central column in the roof, which opens and closes. We have realised that airflow is a major factor in keeping stock healthy; it allows the cattle to breath in fresh air while the stale air is removed by the circulating airflows.

A few weeks ago we completed the annual job of cleaning the roundhouse. This mammoth task is the pinnacle of the year for animal welfare on the farm. It all starts with removing the old straw and manure, which is a breeding ground for bacteria. Once all the pens are cleared, we can focus on the any drainage problems that may have arisen over the year. Any broken pipes were fixed and stones were levelled on the floor of the pens to help drain away any liquid. Next on the list was to pressure wash everywhere and disinfect to make a bacteria free zone. The next task was to lay lime on the floor. This compound has bacteria killing agents which fight any harmful toxins within the animal’s environment. However, lime will burn the cattle’s skin if they came into contact with it, so we had to think how we could prevent the contact between the two. We decided on a wood chip that would cover the lime while limiting any bad odours from the environment. Lastly, straw is blown on top to create a soft comfortable surface for relaxing.

This is what happens behind the scenes to create a healthy herd that is antibiotic free.