Tell us the name of your business, location and a brief description of your offering
We’re Dan (39) and Alison Rogers (35). Our business name is Rogers Rare Breeds, based in Vines Cross near Heathfield in East Sussex. We farm and produce grass fed English Longhorn beef and free range rare breed pork. We are also looking at some sheep for next year to complement the other grazers.
What is your background? Are you from a farming family or is this something you moved into?
I grew up on a farm where my dad was the herdsman. We bought the farm in 2016 taking the plunge buying a dilapidated old barn and stables with over-used fields. We started the herd in 2017 with two cows and three young heifers and have built it up to around thirty.
The stars seemed to align in 2018 and we had the opportunity to move to a house right next to the farm. In 2019, we decided to invest into the farm and build a new barn to better house this native breed and give them space to relax over the winter months as even though the breed are hardy the ground on the farm is not. We now farm about 60 acres working with our neighbouring landowners that enjoy our cattle and farm ethos.
What is the ethos of your business? How do you differ from other farmers locally?
We care for our animals and protect and enhance the environment that they live in. We practice mob grazing [short duration, high density grazing], moving the animals on daily to ensure the cattle get the very best of the grass and allowing it to recover quicker.
This also ensures the grass left is trampled back into the soil with manure and means the cattle have moved on long before any parasites exist creating no health problems that are common in traditional farms.
We even give them a woods to graze – which they love – as there are plenty of good scratching posts to shift a malting hide.
As our English Longhorns are all pedigree, they all have names and you can trace back their breeding lines. You will also find there are family groups within the herd; we have some cows with around four or five offspring in the herd which always seem to graze, rest and play together. We also let the cows wean the calves naturally.
We really want to produce something special on our farm so our beef is slow grown and predominantly grass fed apart from the brewers grains and waste grapes from vineyards which we tend to feed the younger stock. We generally take the animals for the table at about 30-36 months but have done a few older and found the favour and intramuscular marbling as something pretty special. We dry-age the whole carcass for a minimum of 28 days so you have the flavour from the steaks through to the mince.
You’re working with Jimmy Gray, formerly head chef at Jeremy’s Restaurant at Borde Hill?
I have known Jimmy since he was about seven when I used to work at the Bluebell Railway – where I later became a chef – and we have been friends ever since. We share a real passion for food and its provenance.
Jimmy has become a renowned chef in Sussex and is now starting his new venture. We decided to join forces. I’m farming a great carbon neutral product which has traceability with all our livestock born, grown, slaughtered and produced within a three mile radius. Jimmy is then taking that turning it into something really special, whether that be a crafted pie or Charcuterie. We’re still in the early stages at the moment but I really see it going from strength to strength.
How did the pandemic and lockdown impact your business?
It’s been positive for us. In the first lockdown we sold out on our beef boxes and again in June. I hope the public now see how important local farmers are and understand that what we produce is so much better than any supermarket. Plus they can see the herd in the fields or pigs in the woods and know these animals had the best life.
How can people get hold of your product?
We sell direct to our customers through our social media channels and also word of mouth: over 40% of our customers have been recommended to give us a try.
We focus on whole carcass utilisation so there is no wasted cuts and everyone gets the chance to have something special and a little different.
We sell the beef in 5kg and 10kg boxes that will a selection of cuts. Roughly a third of each box is steaks (fillet, ribeye, sirloin, onglet, bavette, denver, flat-iron, pichania, rump), a third roasting joints (topside, silverside, brisket, shin) and a third lesser cuts (diced and minced).
The pork is sold as a quarter pig box working out at about 14kg and consisting of roasting joints, gammon (smoked, unsmoked), chops, steaks, tenderloin, belly and sausages (both plain and herb).
Our beef boxes are available to pre-order now and available from mid November onwards. A 10kg box is £140 with free delivery in East Sussex. Our pork boxes will be available from March and are priced at £90 for a quarter pig.