10th June 2008
The award recognises the contribution of farmers in Yorkshire and the North East to wildlife conservation and environmental protection and is organised by the Yorkshire Agricultural Society and the region's Farming and Wildlife Advisory Groups (FWAG).
The farm is one of the five area winners, and now goes forward to the finals with the overall winner announced on Wednesday July 9 at the Great Yorkshire Show at Harrogate.
All the area winners have the option of going forward to next year's Silver Lapwing Award.
The five areas represented are North Yorkshire, East Yorkshire, South & West Yorkshire, Northumberland and Tyne Tees.
The awards will be presented by Mrs Alison Saville who gave the trophy in 1989 in memory of her grandfather Howard Tye, founder of Tye Trailers, and also her father Kenneth Tye.
Now sponsored by the Yorkshire Agricultural Society, the awards are part of the society's charitable work which sees more than £1m allocated to aid to the farming community each year.
Givendale Farm is 507 hectares in size with the land split into two enterprises - 292 hectares of arable crops and 215 in grass.
It has been rented from Garrowby Estates since 1974 by JSR Farms Ltd and managed since then by Richard Fuller. Farm policy has focused on developing the livestock, arable and environmental activities while simultaneously promoting landscape and wildlife conservation.
Mr Fuller said: "For the last three decades we have focused on developing natural habitats and encouraging indigenous wildlife, such as the Marbled White butterfly and Pyramidal Orchid."
Extensive Countryside Stewardship Schemes have been in place since 1991 focusing on improving the biodiversity of chalk grassland, streamside habitats and hedgerow improvements including field margin establishment.
The farm was accepted into Defra's Higher Level Stewardship Scheme two years ago.
Conservation work began in 1975 when four large ponds were constructed and work started on improving the hedgerow network. In 1991 another pond was built and 25 hectares were entered into Countryside Stewardship to encourage wild flowers and butterflies.
Around 6,000 metres of new hedgerows have been planted and about 10,000 metres have been improved by gapping up and allowing them to grow to three metres in height. Every hedge has a one, two or six-metre field margin next to it, providing an essential habitat for a diversity of wildlife.
The main shrub in the hedgerows is Hawthorn but there is also Blackthorn, Guelder Rose, Dog Rose and Hazel - the diversity helping the insect and bird population. New hedges have been planted in lines to join up existing ones and to line main areas of habitat such as woodlands and wetland in the valleys.
The margins provide habitat for a range of wildlife such as wild flowers, insects, small mammals and birds. Many birds nesting in the hedgerows feed on insects and seeds.
Small mammals also feed on, and make their nests of, plant material while birds of prey, such as the barn owl and kestrel, feed on small mammals. Game birds such as the red-legged partridge nest on the ground in long grass
The chalk-fed ponds provide excellent habitat for a wide variety of aquatic wildlife species and attract many wildfowl. Many of the stream-side margins have been protected from livestock grazing by fencing and are rich in aquatic plants and insects.
The woodland provides excellent habitat for many species of songbirds, owls and woodpeckers. Kestrels, sparrow hawks and buzzards regularly nest in the woodland. A major project in recent years has been rabbit control to prevent damage to pasture land.
The farm now has a herd of 200 Stabiliser cows plus 150 Stabiliser steers, some of which were bought in, plus 40 replacement heifers.
Mr Fuller said: "We have developed the Stabiliser breed over the last 10 years, which is a composite breed imported from the USA, to improve suckler cow efficiency and our use of grazed grass. It's worked well for us as it produces a high-quality beef product which we now market as Givendale Prime."
An open day at the unit next Tuesday will see the Stabiliser Cattle Company officially launch Givendale Prime which is being developed to market Stabiliser beef to the upper end of the retail market. Stabiliser-sired cattle from suckler herds are finished on grass-based systems to produce tender, succulent and full-flavoured beef.
The field day will include Mr Fuller providing an update on beef producers' increasing interest in the Stabiliser concept as a cost saving, functional dam line which is significantly improving their overall business output.
Supply chain manager Ursula Taylor will discuss the development of Givendale Prime to target the top end of the retail sector and develop a premium for producers.
She will also explain how the company is developing the supply chain.
Catering butcher Richard Taylor, of Derby-based Owen Taylor Ltd, will comment on why he began to source Givendale Prime on a weekly basis for his customers, the consistent positive feedback received and the potential to build volume.
Finally, AHDB's Richard Lowe will offer his view on the beef market and potential trends.
"Givendale Prime is an outstanding eating quality product and has exceptional unique selling points," said Mr Fuller. "We are slowly developing the brand in Yorkshire and the uptake so far among niche markets has been very positive.
"Eventually, we intend to develop an operating blueprint that can be adopted on a regional basis enabling an increasing number of Stabiliser beef producers to benefit from our marketing effort and in turn, offer more and more consumers the opportunity to enjoy the high quality, consistent eating experience that Givendale Prime offers."
Source: Yorkshire Post
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