Couple get meaty prize from trust
Relative newcomers to farming, Neil and Sally Grigg, took a chance on the Ruby Red cattle of North Devon when they first set out to manage a National Trust tenancy.
Now they have shown what good judges they were after winning a National Trust award for the meat they rear.
The couple's beef quality this year qualified for a place among the award-winning Fine Farm Producers designated by the trust.
Neil, 38, said: "It's really nice that the trust feels we deserve an award.
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"To have an award in the shop means that customers who come in know what we do, and that this is a recognised quality product."
The Griggs took over their tenancy at Burrow Farm in the Clyst Valley six years ago.
They then had to choose which stock to rear.
Neil said: "We've always liked the Red Devons because they're docile, easy to keep.We love them."
"They're grass fed so it's relatively cheap forage. We produce good quality grazing and it means they can stay out longer."
They bought four cows and four calves and have grown the herd since then so successfully that they are now selling their own stock.
Neil said that, despite recent developments in the breed, the carcasses were small compared to others.
He said: "The size is the slight trade-off which is why we try to retail them ourselves and add the value.
"It takes longer to get there and you don't get quite so much out of it. It's a balance.
"They suit our system well because they're easy to handle.
"There are only two of us handling them and we also do school access to the farm, so because of their calmness we're happy to take children out there."
The cattle are slaughtered at a small, local abattoir just a few miles from the farm, where carcasses are hung on the bone for at least 21 days.
The meat is sold at a number of farmers markets in Devon and also from the farm's own small shop.
In the same competition previous winners Robin and Jackie Haddy, who breed North Devon cows on 350 acres of trust land in Cornwall, won awards for their mince, topside and sirloin steak.
Robin said: "They're out grazing all year and have a varied and healthy diet which benefits the quality of the meat."
"We used to keep much bigger, commercial Hereford / Charolais cross cattle but 11 years ago we started grazing more on the coast and found the North Devons better suited to this land because they are hardy and small."