Andrew & Ian Westlake
The Westlake Brothers farm 350 acres of National Trust land in Branscombe, East Devon. For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure, it’s about as picture-perfect as it gets. Manor Mill Farm is bang in the middle of the village, adjacent to the gurgling brook that meanders through the buttercup meadow, with the sea just half a mile away down the valley.
Andrew and Ian Westlake, from fishing rather than farming stock, have farmed here for just over twelve years. They have a herd of eighty suckler cows (who raise their own calves) which they are slowly Aberdeen-ising by crossing with an Angus bull and buying in pure-bred replacement heifers. Like all our beef, the Westlake’s herd is predominantly grass fed, with the exception of the last few months when nearly ‘finished’ animals are pepped up with UK grown wheat, lucerne (alfalfa) and beans. The Westlakes also keep a flock of Romany ewes which are crossed with a Hampshire Down ram to produce lambs for the autumn market.
From a conservation point of view, Manor Farm is also ‘bat central’, qualifying for Natural England’s Higher Level Stewardship scheme with twelve of the UK’s fourteen breeds of bat being regular visitors.