Knaveswell Farm is 156 acres. As a dairy farm, most of our land comprises of grass fields. We also grow maize each summer which is harvested and chopped for the cows to eat during the winter. Our herd spends all spring and summer out at grass, coming inside during the winter when the grass doesn’t grow and the fields are wet and muddy. We love to see our cows outside eating grass in green fields and we’re less keen on farming systems that keep dairy cows inside every day all year round.
We milk the cows twice a day – early in the morning and mid afternoon. We have around 100 cows in the herd and each has a calf every year. Heifer (female) calves are reared to join the herd when they are about 2 years old. Bull (male) calves are sold to a local farmer to be reared for beef.
We have a small beef suckler herd of Hereford cattle living at Durlston Country Park in Swanage. The herd grazes the 300 acres of clifftop land and wildflower meadows for 10 months of the year, returning to Knavewell for calving in April and May. The cattle are moved from field to field by Durlston’s rangers. The park is open to the public so look out for our cattle if you visit Durlston. The cattle are pretty much free-range and the meat can be sold as “grass-fed beef” as no concentrates such as grain or soya are fed to the animals. The beef is wonderfully tender and full of flavour.
We are happy for guests to wander up to the farm and watch the afternoon milking. We start around 4.00 pm and usually finish around 5.30 pm. Paul and Georgie milk most afternoons and Paul’s happy to answer any questions you have about the cows, the milking process and, in particular, the current milk price, so don’t be shy. Many guests are amazed at just how big the cows are when you see them up close rather than viewing a herd in a field as you drive past.
Jo aims to feed the calves at about 5.00 pm each afternoon and you’re welcome to help pour the milk, re-fill water buckets and top up the calf feed.
The hens living near the glamping site need feeding once a day and guests are welcome to come up to collect chicken feed in the afternoons at calf feeding time.
During spring we buy in some lambs and they are bottle fed 3-4 times a day – early morning, lunchtime, afternoon and the dreaded night feed. All extra help welcome (particularly the night feed though we never seem to have any volunteers for this!).
If you miss the calf feeding at 5.00 pm, you are welcome to pop up and visit the calves in the barn at any time during the day.
Our small herd of Hereford cattle live at Durlston Country Park in Swanage – 300 acres of cliff top walks with a visitor centre and restaurant. If you visit, look out for our cattle and report back to us! We visit regularly but the rangers at Durlston check the cattle daily and move them from field to field.
Home Grown Pork
We usually fatten a couple of piglets each year and sometimes have our own sausages and bacon in the freezer. The pigs live outside near the parking area for the glamping tents.
Free Range Beef
We have a small beef herd of Hereford cattle roaming the coastal fields at Durlston Country Park in Swanage and can offer mince, steaks, casserole stewing beef from the freezer.
Each spring we buy some week old lambs for our Easter guests to bottle feed (and cuddle!). Once weaned, we either sell them to a local sheep farmer or rear them ourselves so we may have some lamb available for guests to buy.
We keep some hens near the glamping site and all guests are welcome to collect eggs. If you’d like to help feed the hens, or look after them during your stay, just let us know.
With the milk price continuing its downward spiral we have been looking at ways to add value to the milk we produce here on the farm. More details to follow when we’ve experimented a little more!