Farming the Bowtell's Way
The first Bowtell arrived in East Tisted near Alton in Hampshire to take over Home Farm in 1910. Born in Chawton, Percy Bowtell set about creating a family farm with 12 cows, pigs and sheep and 60 acres of corn. The cows were hand-milked and the milk was transported to the local dairy in Alton. The introduction of EC milk quotas in 1984 only allowed for 1983 levels of production. To compensate in a small way we opened the first farm shop a fridge in the corner of the dairy for self-service of milk and cream (still fondly remembered by some of our customers), and an open jug for payment!
Photo: Dave Bowtell, Trudie Bowtell, Ronnie Crumplin & Toby Bowtell
In 1992, as a result of new EC regulations on milk and dairy products, we sold our dairy herd of 30 cows concentrating instead on creating a farm shop dedicated to home-reared beef, pork and lamb.
A Traditional Farming Philosophy
Our farming philosophy is not to use any modern anti-biotic growth promoters or medicated food. We farm in a traditional, free-range mode, with animals grazing on semi-permanent grass in rolling parkland, with trees for shade.
In the coldest part of winter the animals are housed in the barns on straw, with the main diet being our own grass silage and hay with minerals.
At the end of the cycle we minimise any stress on our animals with short journey times and familiar handling: we take them in our own trailer to a family-owned abattoir at 7am on a Monday. They arrive at 8am and are processed immediately. We know the men well, and are 110% satisfied with their high skills and hygiene levels.
You can assess the results of our farming practices through the range of high-quality products available to you and enjoy the taste of food produced in the traditional way.
The sows and boars are run outdoors. At 8 to 10 weeks the piglets are weaned to an outside rearing unit. This all happens at our family friend's farm - Jannaways at Odiham. Here they are fed on a specially made diet containing no medicated feed or growth promoters. They then come back to the farm to finish growing in the barns by the shop.
We can supply a full range of superb flavoured pork with crackling, and every week we dry-cure our own bacon the old-fashioned way, and produce our own sliced cured ham.
All our beef animals are Hereford-cross, born on Chris Snow's farm at Stroud, and brought to us at about 10 days old. Their mothers are milked by Chris, (he and Davids Bowtell went to college together in the 60's), and the calves are hand-reared at Home Farm by 'Fourth Generation' Toby Bowtell. Chris Snow traditionally farms his cows with grass sileage feed and natural grazing.
Calves are kept in the great barn and fed milk substitutes, calf nuts, sugar beet shreds and hay and reared in family groups until they are 12 weeks old when they are moved on to haylage, sugar beet nuts and molassed minerals. After this you will see them grazing in the parks until they are 20 months old. They will then be housed in our barns where they are fed on our own grass silage balanced by beef nuts (containing no medicated feed or growth promoters) to the end of the cycle.
We offer a full range of beef products, traditionally hung to improve flavour and tenderness.
We need lambs all year round to meet the demand in our farm shop. We have hired a contract shepherd, Louise who takes care of rearing all our sheep. Louise starts lambing in December with Dorset ewes, then continues with the later-lambing Suffolks, and finally the speckly-face Beulahs in April and May. Our sheep are grass fed from March to December, then come into the barns for lambing, where all are fed on hay and non-medicated sheep nuts for extra energy while they have young lambs.
At most times we have a full range of lamb cuts in the farm shop. Please ask if you require mutton.
Bowtell Chicken & Guinea Fowl
Our chicken and guinea fowl are all reared at the farm on a free-range basis in large moveable polytunnels. The houses have a warm house area, a covered run and a large open run onto grass. They are fed on an additive and medicated free corn-based diet.
All our birds are processed at the farm. Bowtell's free range chicken and guinea fowl are available all year round but we are limited on the number so a call would help guarantee your weekend bird.