Cumbria is home to some of Britain’s oldest farms and agricultural traditions and records show that there has been a farm on the Low Sizergh site since the 13th century. Once the home farm of Sizergh Castle, providing food for the Strickland family estate, we now send many thousands of litres of milk to Kendal to be made into desserts and yogurt, some to a local ice cream maker and to a Lancashire cheesemaker to be made into our own Kendal Creamy cheese.
341 acres in total, Low Sizergh Farm is home to 170 red, brown, black and white cows (it’s a cross bred herd of Holsteins, Swedish Red and Montbeliards), 700 hens, and a flock of 200 Swaledale and Mule sheep. Run by Richard and Judith Park, the farm has always been working proof that good practice can lead to excellent productivity and enhanced animal welfare.
Our theory remains simple: happy animals create a healthy yield. Almost all the cows have been bred and reared by us. They graze the fields in the summer but live undercover between November and March, eating silage made from grass and other crops grown on the farm. With rubber-floored cubicles to sleep in, plenty of water to drink and scratching posts for comfort, they winter in the cow building until the weather picks up.
Our laying hens live in cabins in the fields near the farm. Morecambe Bay continues to be a high risk area for transmission of avian flu from the wild bird population so our hens can’t range as freely as they used to. For the time being we’ve built a netted run so that they can stretch their legs and indulge in at least a little bit of pecking and scratching. It is likely that this disease control measure will be in place until the end of April 2017
We hope to inform visitors about the wonderful food that comes from this and other British farms. Throughout the year you will find dishes on the menu that are made with our cheeses, ice cream made from our milk, vegetables that are wheeled in from the fields, and traditional fruits picked from the orchard. Many of the hundreds of eggs laid on a daily basis (at least in the lighter months of the year) are used in our kitchens.
We work to create wildlife habitats to benefit both the surrounding environment and our produce and crops. Many miles of hedgerow, for example, are managed to keep the cows and sheep in the fields, but also to provide homes for birds, bats and beetles that thank us for our hospitality by feeding on the pests that damage our crops.
We use clover leys to provide nitrogen for grass growth and employ methods such as crop rotation to help with weed control and build soil fertility. Recycled wastes like compost and farmyard manures also enrich the soil and encourage growth.
We have a Countryside Stewardship Agreement with Natural England that helps us to enhance and conserve the landscape, its wildlife and history, and to help people to enjoy them.