If you know Suffolk Food Hall, you’ll probably have heard or read the words ‘Red Poll’ but you might not know what it means. The words Red Poll are synonymous with our Butchery department, but what do these words mean? Well, I’m here to tell you…
The Suffolk Dun
The Norfolk Red
The Red Poll is a breed of cow, native to Suffolk and Norfolk, we have our own herd of Red Poll based around the Food Hall, they will often be grazing in one of our paddocks surrounding the Food Hall building.
The Red Poll was created by crossing a Suffolk Dun, a milking breed, with the Norfolk Red, a beef breed. The breed has a distinct deep red colour, it’s ‘polled’ which in the farming world means it naturally has no horns and it they have a dual purpose, they can be milked but also produce top quality beef.
Our Red Poll Herd
The family in Robert and Oliver’s (our directors) great grandfather’s day were breeders of Red Poll cattle, which were both milked and used to produce beef, but the arrival of the 1970’s brought specialisation…
and like most of the country, the Paul family Red Polls were replaced by either specialist milk cows, mainly Friesan Holstein (the classic black and white cow) or specialist beef breeds, often from the continent.
The Red Polls returned to Freston and Wherstead when Ali, Robert’s wife gave him a cow in calf for his Christmas present in 2004. ‘Red Hot Flame’ lived until she was 17 years old!
The herd has somewhat expanded since those early days, with around 80 breeding cows and heifers and over 180 head cattle in all. The growth of our herd has mirrored the recovery of the national herd…
Where the number of breeding females fell below 800 several decades ago and has since rebounded to over 8000, hopefully securing the future of the breed.
The Red Polls spend most of the year outside and graze grass on the meadows at Freston and Wherstead, they also graze in Broxtead too. Through the winner they are fed hay and maize silage, both of which are grown on the farm and when necessary small amounts of compound feed too.
The male cattle are developed into steers and finished at around two years old, to ensure a greater depth of flavour than faster finished commercial beef.
This is why we pride ourselves on the quality of beef in the butchery from the marbling to the flavour.