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Producing pasture-fed beef and dairy in North Wales

Case Studies | Published  21 March 2024

The way we farm is key to building and maintaining healthy and sustainable food systems in the UK. We spoke to Huw Foulkes of Pentrefelin about his farm in North Wales about how he is supplying pasture-fed meat and dairy to his local community.

Rebalancing the food system to one that is better for people and the planet, transforming the food we eat and produce, will not be possible without farmers. We need to see an overall shift towards ‘better’ production standards that are better for the environment and the animals in our food system, whilst ensuring farmers are fairly rewarded and have resilient supply chains. Ensuring farmers have the right tools, funding and advice will be key to the success of a long-term transition. ‘Better’ production will look different across the UK, with farmers using a range of approaches to sustainable land management. 

In the North Wales countryside, just outside the town of Denbigh, is Pentrefelin, a small beef and dairy farm run by Huw Foulkes. After years of intensive cropping since his father stopped farming in 2005, Huw is taking back the previously-rented land and farms in ways that aim to regenerate the land.

The farm’s cattle are managed in a cow-with-calf system where calves remain with their mothers until they are naturally weaned. Cows are milked once a day for bottling, working in balance with the calves’ needs.

Huw has eliminated the use of fertilisers and chemical sprays, complemented by introducing nitrogen-fixing legumes, such as lucerne and clovers, into the farm’s pastures. Huw is passionate about a regenerative approach to dairy farming, where animal welfare and environmental impact are prioritised without sacrificing yield or income.

In order to mainstream the methods exemplified here at Pentrefelin, our farmers need to be better equipped with the right tools, funding and advice. Our latest report, Eating Better in the Nations, shows that the four governments across the UK need to take urgent action to support our farmers in their journey towards a better food system. Ensuring a successful just transition for farmers depends upon joined-up thinking across all devolved government departments to make nature and climate-friendly farming methods a viable business proposition. We would like to see more stories like Huw’s, and call for the policies, frameworks and funding that can make it happen.

Take a look at the farm and explore Pentrefelin here: