Producer Profile: Cattle Connect producer Mark

For the first of our 2015 Producer Profiles, we sat down with Mark, one of the producers on our Cattle Connect scheme, to discuss his experiences with the scheme and take a look at his unique cattle housing system...

For Dovecote Park calf finisher Mark, nutrition stands at the forefront of raising high quality beef cattle. One of the producers on our Cattle Connect scheme (see Cattle Connect page for more information), Mark has reared cattle for Dovecote Park since 2009, having come across the scheme through a prior association with another Dovecote calf rearer.

‘It was something I could actually build a business plan upon, rather than any guesswork,’ Mark says of the initial attraction of the Cattle Connect scheme, ‘It gave us the opportunity to look at something long term, rather than a short term fix, so it guaranteed supply and guaranteed an outlet. Everything made sense.’

Based in North Yorkshire, not far from Dovecote Park’s Pontefract site, the most striking feature of Mark’s farm is the prominent round house buildings. Put in place over a two week period in 2009,  these were the first in the country built for the express purpose of sheltering cattle.

‘It all just works,’ he states of his unique housing system, ‘the way we set it up, we treated it as two individual buildings that just combined to create a complete system. They’re superb. We feed from the exterior we bed from the exterior, virtually when we do go in its to do something to them. So they’re left alone, but we can just monitor them so easily.’

In addition to the use of the purpose built round houses, Marks system succeeds owing to a diligent and precise feeding regime, tailored over a long period, with a considerable amount of external consultation,
‘I only utilise what I have available to me – it’s something that I need to know.’, says Mark regarding his feeding regime, ‘I draw from as many opinions as I can. I'm not trained in nutrition, but since starting with Dovecote, with Cattle Connect, I wanted to learn an awful lot more about nutrition, and utilising everything that goes in through the mouth- it has to have a benefit, as nutrition brings health. If animals are eating properly you can prevent a lot of problems. Nutrition is at the forefront of everything I do here.’ 

Speaking of the benefits he receives from supplying through Cattle Connect, Mark states, ‘You've got a source, you've got an outlet, the marketing is done, the sourcing is done – you've got something to fall back onto – you've got the fieldsmen, you've got Simon. Without Dovecote, I’d probably wouldn't have done what I'm doing here now.’