The NQM Difference
The founder of Northumbrian Quality Meats, Steve Ramshaw is committed to all aspects of his farm and meat sales business. Steve is a dedicated conservationist, and Monkridge Hill Farm is managed with the conservation of wildlife and natural habitat as a priority.
Monkridge Hill Farm was built entirely from scratch by now farmer Steve Ramshaw. Broad, ruddy and big-boned, you'd image him to be part of a long farming dynasty, hefted like his sheep to these Northumbrian hills for generations.
In fact, Steve was born in Newcastle upon Tyne on the infamous Scotswood Road and brought up in the city's West End. Not so long ago, Steve was Senior Clerk of Works for Newcastle City Architects specialising in, which came in handy for the building of the new farm house! He also built the lake just beyond, part of the many conservation and environmental features on the farm which now includes 30,000 trees.
This dedication to conservation and the environment coupled with an extensive organic farming method has always made perfectly good sense to Steve. "I'm no beard and sandals man. Farming extensively the way we do here, dealing with animals in the way we do just makes sense as far as I'm concerned. It's simple common sense not to pressurise the environment and animals, just to provide short-term profit. It's a pet hate of mine that the long-term, crippling financial costs of something like BSE are not taken into account."
The farm is now famous for producing the very finest beef from Abardeen Angus and the newly developed Wagyu herds, as well as award winning lamb and mutton from a Scottish Blackface herd. "What we're about here," says Steve, "is using the best of old breeds together with the very best of modern science to produce unique flavour and texture in our product. The sheep here are Scottish Blackface, a breed which would have grazed these hills centuries ago. They're a breed which likes to graze extensively, and here they are able to find themselves a varied diet, not just seasonal grasses but things like sphagnum moss, which is high in protein. Or young heather shoots, small sedges, bilberry, cotton grass and a multitude of seeds. All of which goes to improve the flavour and texture of the meat."
These grasses are an integral part of the product for Steve, as he explains, "With us being organic, we're not using any artificial fertilizers or chemicals. We are not using modern, quick-growing grasses and chucking nitrogen on them so that the roots don't have to go down into the soil. No we're using slow-growing varieties like Timothy, red and sheep's fescue, which are getting their roots down into the soil, picking up those trace elements that are so important to the sheep.
Some of the lambs are finished on clover. After we've taken the silage off, this forces a clover regeneration and the hill lambs are fed on the aftermath. Which in practice, means about 100 lambs to a field of young, sweet, clover which again influences flavour."
The choice of breed is also of critical importance to the flavour and texture of the finished product. As Steve says, "For me in terms of quality, it's important that you don't have the big, lean, double muscled lamb that the big supermarkets present to their customers as visually attractive. The Blackface is a smaller carcass, a smaller cut, but for me it's the periphery of fat that surrounds the meat that helps retain juices and tenderness of the joint or cut when cooking."
Steve also works hard on the breed index of his herd, logging information and performance of each and every animal. Which is why meat bought from Northumbrian Quality Meats ensures total traceability - not just to that particular animal, but to its grandparents.
Monkridge Hill Farm is located near the village of Otterburn in the high scenic hills of Northumberland. The farm of 750 acres of mainly high hill land, is managed on a traditional, extensive basis - In very much the same manner it would have been centuries ago.
As a winner of multiple awards, Northumbrian Quality Meats is locally produced and nationally recognised!
Northumbrian Quality Meats has been recognised with several accreditations. Find out more...
Hairy Bikers visit
After the visit of the Hairy bikers Si and Dave to our farm last autumn the tv show went out on the tenth of April , we were lucky to get five minutes of the show dedicated to Wagyu F1 cross beef .