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Upper Waterside Farm

Location:Disley,Nr Stockport, Cheshire

Habitats:Grassland

Livestock:

In brief:Farm nr Stockport in Cheshire specialising in breeding Aberdeen Angus cattle. Includes grazing as part of organic ELS and HLS schemes.

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Upper Waterside Farm is a 90Ha holding run by Mrs Hamnett and Mr Oliver. There are no staff employed on the holding.  75ha of the land is in an organic ELS scheme and 12 ha is within an HLS scheme. Previously the farm was in a 10 year countryside Stewardship Scheme.

The land is all in a Less Favoured Area and is a mixture of pastures and haymeadows, from the floodplain of the Goyt rising to some of the higher pastures on the moorland fringe and being a mosaic of scrub and grassland. There are small patches of woodland and the boundaries are hedges and drystone walls. The meadows and pastures entered into the Higher Level Stewardship Scheme are rich in wildflowers. The pasture land lies between 450-950ft. The land is on Gritstone and the wild flower species present are typical of acid grassland and include black knapweed, common catsear, autumn hawkbit, oxeye daisy, harebell, common birdsfoot trefoil, yellow rattle, heath bedstraw, meadow vetch, greater birdsfoot trefoil, meadowsweet, tormentil, heath speedwell, devils bit scabious and ragged robin. There is ridge and furrow, some of which was ploughed after WW2 but some has never been ploughed. This is grazed from April – October. The meadows are between 450-550 ft. There is no ridge and furrow but some were thought to be ploughed at the end of WW2. These are cut and then aftermath grazed from August – October. This has been the system for the past 10 years.

Mrs Hamnett specialises in Aberdeen Angus beef production and the breeding of pedigree original population Aberdeen Angus Cattle. At the time of writing she has 3 bulls (avg. 4 years of age), 40 cows (avg. 9 years), 37 calves (avg. 8 months) and 37 (yearlings avg. 18 months). Of these 1 bull and 7 females are original population. Access to the farm is monitored and controlled to protect the health status of the herd. This breed was chosen for it’s ability to do well on this kind of land without concentrates. The pedigree cattle are marketed by word of mouth while the meat is marketed solely through Waitrose. The breed and the conservation of the farm is used as a marketing tool. Mrs Hamnett considers the enterprise to be “theoretically economically viable” but that there are barriers to this. These include a lower stocking density requiring a larger acreage, and that the current deadweight requirements are not favourable to producers of native breeds. The enterprise is therefore reliant on the single payment and agri environment subsidies and if these were removed this might make them think again about the type of enterprise they run.