ST GILES FARMS
Shaftesbury Estates farms 1,400 hectares of the estate through its subsidiary, St. Giles Farms Ltd. The principal enterprises are the production of combinable crops (wheat, barley, oats rape and peas) and a dairy herd of about 400 cows.
Crops are chosen to best suit the predominantly light chalk soils and to maximise market opportunities. Wheat is grown for both bread-making and animal feed; the barley is grown for high quality malting for the production of beer. Naked oats are grown for breakfast cereal, rape for rapeseed oil and peas for human consumption. The rapeseed oil is used for the production of either cooking oil or biofuels.
The Holstein cows are based in one three-man dairy unit and the produce sold mainly for use as liquid milk. Replacement heifers are reared on the farm together with some beef cattle. Good quality Holstein bulls are used for the replacement heifers. Beef bulls (Belgian Blue, Simmental and Aberdeen Angus) are used to produce the beef cattle.
There is considerable importance given to preserving and enhancing those high quality environmental features present on the farmland. These include the water meadows and some reclaimed downland. All the watermeadows and some permanent pasture are in the Countryside Stewardship scheme with the balance of the farmland being in the Entry Level Stewardship scheme. Rare species to be found on the farmland include Marsh orchids, Duke of Burgundy butterflies and Greater Horseshoe bats.
The farming enterprise is very well equipped so that food can be produced in an efficient, economic way which is both responsible and sensitive to the aspirations of the general public. Agriculture has been through some difficult times and only through attention to detail can the farms produce, at an economic cost, the very high quality of food that the market requires.