Dedicated beef producer and regular supplier of prime quality
Lakeland Beef, Alan Brown says the brand has helped to underpin
the market at a time when prices have been in the doldrums.
Alan Brown and his Limousin cross cattle.
The third generation of his family to farm the stock rearing and
grain producing Midtown Farm, Kirkbampton, near Carlisle on the
Solway Estuary, Alan and his wife Sara take pride in all they produce.
Beef-bred mainly Limousin cross cattle have been selected for
their superior and consistent quality from the same two hill farms
in the region for a number of years.
At Midtown Farm, cattle are finished on home-grown barley to meet
the high specifications of the Pioneer Foodservice Lakeland brand,
which is now gaining recognition in the market place since its
launch seven years ago.
“We are very pleased to have been selling beef through the
auction at Borderway for the Lakeland brand since it started,” says
“While producer prices for beef generally have not been
as high as we would have liked, it is good to see Pioneer buying
these quality beef-bred cattle through the ring and helping to
boost the trade.
“Not only can customers eating the beef be assured of its
traceability, but the scheme is cutting down on food miles as well
as promoting our area and the quality meat we farmers produce.
“If we go out for a meal I always ask where the beef is
from and if it is local – and if it isn’t I say they
should buy Lakeland Beef from Pioneer!”
Lakeland Beef is a partnership between Pioneer Foodservice, based
at Rosehill, Carlisle, auctioneers Harrison & Hetherington,
whose mart at Borderway neighbours Pioneer’s headquarters,
and abattoir firm Dunbia, of Sawley.
Harrison & Hetherington gives help and guidance over the procurement
of the beef of the required specification from farm-assured producers
in the CA and LA postcode areas for the Lakeland label either through
the ring or direct from the farm.
Pioneer takes ownership of the whole carcase which after being
at Dunbia is further processed by Pioneer and the resultant consistency
of the product is a further huge selling point. The regional brand
has the full backing of EBLEX (English Beef and Lamb Executive).
Restaurants and other catering establishments across the north
readily use the Lakeland brand on their menus. Guaranteeing the
provenance of the beef, Pioneer’s sales team gives the names
and addresses of producers and quantities of beef each has supplied
to the caterers.
An average of 100 head of cattle are being processed each week
and more and more producers want to take part in the supply chain.
When Alan gave up milk production in 2000 to concentrate on finishing
beef cattle he set his stall at the highest possible welfare standards.
Cattle are housed in a light and airy modern building and bedded
on the farm’s own barley straw.
“We really wanted the cattle to be as comfortable as possible
with good, dry bedding and good ventilation in the building.
“I believe that if a beast has somewhere warm and dry to
lie then it’s as good as giving them an extra feed. The building
makes it very easy to handle the cattle which also improves welfare,” says
The Browns farm a total of 300 acres, 230 of which are owner-occupied.
The steading was moved out of the farm’s central village
location and a new building was erected for the finishing cattle
as well as a silage clamp, making management easy with everything
on one site.
Vacating the buildings has generated another income in the storage
of caravans and the former milking parlour building has enabled
their son Paul to set up his own successful computer building,
repair and website business at home.
All the cattle are suckled calves sourced from two Pennine hill
farms, one of which runs up to 1,200ft above sea level, and they
are mostly Limousin cross with some British Blues.
In contrast, Alan and Sara’s feeding farm runs from just
10ft above sea level near the estuary to 90ft.
“We know the type of stock we buy from these two farms.
We know they will perform and we have a good idea how they will
finish,” said Alan.
The calves, both steers and heifers, are between eight and 15
months old and the aim is to finish them within 12 months. Usually
calves are fed initially in the field and then are brought inside
for finishing on ad-lib home grown barley fed with a balancer.
Between 200 and 250 cattle are finished each year at 22 to 29
months old, all year round, selling to Pioneer as well as local
Alan is a supporter of live primestock auctions and the majority
of cattle are sold through the ring at Borderway by auctioneer
David Holliday – who is also the Browns’ next door
neighbour in Kirkbampton.
Pioneer also markets lamb and pork under more recent but increasingly
successful complementary ventures, Lakeland Lamb and Lakeland Pork.
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