Goat meat sold in Lancashire

Goat meat may be the most popular red meat in the world but it's never really caught on here.<br/>Goat farmers Chris and Sharon Peacock aim to change that. Emma Mayoh reports<br/>PHOTOGRAPHY BY KIRSTY THOMPSON

Ben Peacock’s words might seem brutal but to parents Sharon and Chris his approach is spot on. ‘The kids come out of the mummy’s tummy and then we eat them,’ he said.

The two-year-old regularly gets to see kids born in the barns on the goat farm where he lives, just outside Cockerham. He also runs around acres of fields learning the names of each of the Cockerham Herd before some of them make it onto his dinner plate.

Some people may not agree with them but Sharon and Chris make no excuses for their son’s attitude towards food.

Sharon said: ‘Some people don’t agree with us telling children their food has to be killed for them to eat it. We used to have a display at an agricultural show that had pictures of the carcasses and some thought we shouldn’t expose children to that.

‘We think it’s essential for them to know that the meat doesn’t just comein a packet at the supermarket. This way we think it teaches children to respect food and to realise where it came from. If they respect their food they tend to clear their plate too so you don’t throw food away.’

The couple, who met while they were studying at Myerscough College, have been breeding and rearing their Cockerham Boer goats for food for the past nine years. They had originally intended to keep just a few for their own smallholding, along with some chickens and pigs. But they were soon hooked on the idea of starting their own goat herd.

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The family business may did not get off to a good start. Foot and Mouth Disease hit a week after they bought their small herd of five goats meaning they couldn’t collect them for several months. But today they breed their own goats which have the run of the farm. They are slaughtered and hung at an abattoir in Bamber Bridge, near Preston and the meat is then sold from Chris and Sharon’s farm gate as well as through the internet.

‘It all happened by accident,’ joked Sharon, originally from Bolton. ‘We saw a farming leaflet that said you could eat goats but not many people do. We bought a few and really quickly all the meat had gone to our friends and family. We got more and the same happened again. It just became blatantly obvious there was a market for it. It’s carried on like that ever since.

‘The meat is low fat, low cholesterol, it’s high in iron and it’s also generally farmed by small producers.’

The Boer goat is a South African breed that was only introduced to the UK in the late 1980s. And while goat meat is the most popular red meatin the world, it’s not something that is being served up regularly in the UK. The couple said the tables are turning and demand for their Cockerham Boer meat is now outstripping supply.

The meat is championed by Great British Menu chef, Nigel Haworth, � who serves it as a special at Northcote Manor and other customers travel from around the country, including Edinburgh and Glasgow, to collect goat meat from the farm.

Their success has come from a passion to produce good quality meat. They have kept the herd relatively small so they still know each animal, they also hold goat care courses to teach other people the skills they need to take on their own herd and they work day and night to ensure their herd are fit and healthy.

They have achieved it through hard work, dedication and more than a few sleepless nights.

Chris, who also works as a warden at a nearby caravan park, remembered: ‘When our very first kid was born we spent two days huddled under a blanket in the hay barn. We wanted to make sure we were there when it happened.

‘We still huddle under a blanket in the barn because we still want to be there when the goats are kidding. We know the signs more and it is very rare that we miss one.’

Despite there being a demand for more meat than they can produce, the couple are resisting the temptation to increase their output and are now wanting to scale back their mail order service. They want to keep qualityhigh and concentrate on gradually increasing their own herd rather then buying other goats in.

They also sell free range eggs from their own chickens and will soon sell small amounts of Kune Kune pig meat. This particular breed, which originates from New Zealand, is slower maturing and is often considered tastier that ordinary meat.

Sharon said: ‘We want to go away from national sales and keep it more local because of the food miles. It’s important we produce good quality meat rather than producing lots of meat that is not as good.

‘We work very hard on the farm but we do have a wonderful life. The goats are great to work with because they all have their own little characters and we also get to wake up to gorgeous views of the countryside. If you had told us ten years ago that we would be running our own goat herd we would never have believed you. It has all worked out very well for us though. We now just want to concentrate on doing our best.’

Cockerham Boers, Cockerham, Lancaster, LA2 0ER, 07962 812528 or 07947 026849, info@goat-meat.co.uk, www.goat-meat.co.uk

Getting your goat

What does it taste like? Goat meat tastes a bit like lamb - some say it tastes like something between lamb and beef. The meat is a lot leaner than both of these and has ‘gamier’ taste.

How do you cook it? There are many options: coat it in flour and season with black pepper and then saut� it in a wok to seal the juices in, wrap a joint in foil and roast it in the oven on a low heat as an alternative for a Sunday lunch or use braised goat meat to make a delicious casserole. Goat meat is also a good option for summer barbecues; try to keep the heat down to avoid overcooking it.

Is it expensive? Chris and Sharon sell goat meat from their farm gate. A shoulder joint costs around �8.85 per kilo, chops costs �9.95 per kilo, sausages �6.95 per kilo and a leg joint costs �9.85 per kilo. You can also buy a half or whole carcass, portioned up for you, and costs from �49.50 for a 6kg half carcass.

It is organic? It depends where you buy it from. There are some farms that sell organic goat meat, however Chris and Sharon decided not to.

How can I try it? Demand for goat meat, according to Chris and Sharon, far outstrips supply which means it can be difficult to track down. You can get meat direct from them or if you prefer to let someone else do the work, there are a handful of Lancashire restaurants which serve it on their menu, including at Nigel Haworth’s Northcote Manor.

Try cooking your own goat with some recipes here

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