Hereford Cattle

Hereford cattle originate from the Welsh Marches around the Black and Cambrian mountains, and the river valleys that flow east into the the counties of Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Shropshire. 

They are one of the oldest native breeds, with records dating back into the mid 1700s. They have proved popular and successful across the globe as a pre-eminent beef breed that produces tender, tasty, well-marbled meat. That success, however, has lead to much crossing of the breed to increase its size and meet the trends of the late twentieth century for high-input, high-output farming and cereal-based diets. This put at risk the ‘old fashioned’ Traditional Hereford. 

Thankfully, a few influential breeders rescued the remaining Original Population Traditional Hereford cattle, saving the special characteristics of the uncontaminated bloodlines.

At Smiling Tree, we feel very fortunate to keep a herd of these beautiful native cattle in their native habitat, where they thrive on their native diet of pasture and hay, to produce the most delicious, tender meat. Our 100% grass-fed cattle are never fed any grains, roots or brassica crops.

Hereford cattle

Jersey Cows

Jersey cows are a small, gentle breed, renowned for their docile nature. Every cow is an individual and over time, as with your best friends, you get to know the special, lovable character and quirky little ways of each one. 

Originally from the island of Jersey, where they were bred to live solely off lush pasture, they are highly efficient converters of grass to milk, so are ideally suited to Smiling Tree’s wholly pasture-fed system, where they graze outside all year round. They are raised on organically grown pasture – their natural diet - of diverse grasses, clovers, wildflowers and herbs. In winter we supplement their diet with our home-grown hay and they are never fed grains, root crops or brassicas, which adversely effect the flavour and composition of the milk.

All our cows are allowed to keep their calves and are milked just once a day to produce a uniquely nutritious and flavoursome milk and so that they can lead a relaxed, long and contented life.

Jersey cow

Shetland Sheep

Shetland sheep are a small, fine-boned, naturally short-tailed native breed. Adapted to the harsh climate of the Shetland Islands for over a thousand years, they are extremely hardy and thrive on our rolling hills in south Shropshire at a mere 1,000ft! 

They are good milky mothers with lively lambs and come in many colours and patterns. Their very high quality fine fleeces are particularly sought after by hand spinners.

They love to browse the hedgerows and trees, and particularly enjoy grazing through our fields of herbs. This gives their meat a depth of flavour and tender sweetness, unique to our mineral rich soils. 

Here at Smiling Tree, our Shetland lambs are left to mature slowly on a natural pasture-fed, grain-free diet to give lean, tender and tasty meat.

Shetland sheep ewes and lambs

Rare-breed Pigs

Toot & Puddle are our two adorable rare-breed sows. They are each classic examples of their respective breeds:

Toot, a Tamworth, is a ginger pig, tall, elegant and very chatty. She is friendly and inquisitive and absolutely loves to have a cuddle and a gentle stroke.

Puddle, a Berkshire, is a black pig, short and round and long! Food is her number one priority, sleeping second, tummy rubs third. 

Toot & Puddle are slow pigs that breed slow pork. They have a litter each just once a year, so that they can have a long, easy life. They have deep straw-bedded arks outside and are kept free-range all year. We keep some of their piglets to fatten for pork and sell the rest after weaning in the spring.

rare-pig

Tree-roosting Chickens

The wild ancestors of modern domesticated hens lived in the forests of India and southeast Asia as jungle fowl. They roamed the forest floor looking for tasty morsels, scratching through the leaf litter with strong legs, like minature velociraptors. And they roosted in the trees at night, heads tucked under their wings.

Here at Smiling Tree, we don't have any jungle fowl (or minature velociraptors!), just normal chooks of various breeds and crosses. But we do give our hens, who still retain their ancestors' instincts, a woodland environment. We don't clip their wings and we allow nature to take its course. 

The hens wake up at dawn and put themselves to bed at dusk, watched over by their guardian cockerel and protected by their own innate alertness.

There is a hen house on stilts for those very cold or wet nights but they rarely use it, preferring the natural safety of the trees and occasionally the rafters in the barn!

chickens