A YOUNG Eden Valley farmer has reinvented the way he markets his goat meat venture.

Chris Dickinson has found a new outlet for his high-quality meat after the sector he previously supplied disappeared due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Chris, who started his Tailored Goat Company enterprise in 2015, has changed direction and is now selling successfully straight to the public.

His original market selling mostly through high-end wholesalers to top restaurants in places like London and Edinburgh stopped when the lockdown forced their closure.

Chris, who farms in partnership with parents, Alan and Anne, created a new website www.lakelandgoatmeat.co.uk which mirrors his support for all things Cumbrian.

"Customers have been sending in pictures and reviews which has been great," said Chris.

"I like to support Cumbria, and I have the goats slaughtered at Aireys, and cut up by Deer and Dexter at Penruddock, and feed for the goats comes from local mill, ForFarmers at Penrith," said Christ, who added that he would love to justify putting in a cutting room one day on the farm.

Growing demand for goat meat has seen it labelled as the 'globally most eaten red meat'. It was also the BBC Food Trend in 2019. "There is definitely a growing demand for goat meat. I think it will be in supermarkets within the next couple of years," said Chris.

The family farm 200 acres and their enterprises include Wagyu, sheep laying hens, arable and contracting.

"There has been very strong support for locally produced foot. The one million signatures on the National Farmers Union charter shows people care about the welfare of animals and where it comes from. Lowering food miles is going to be important going forward," said Chris.

The next step for Chris is to create a recipe book to offer customers food ideas.

Social media and WhatsApp groups have been used to highlight his venture.

All Chris's goats are grass fed and free range. They are brought in for the winter as goats don't have lanolin.

"People love to stop and look at the goats grazing on the Durdar Road from Hutton to Carlisle as their striking white coats stand out," added the third-generation farmer.

His goats are all Boer, originating from South Africa - tailored for the meat market at 20, 25 kg deadweight carcass. They have more flavour and are a consistent product, and all the meat are from males who are around eight to nine months. Sometimes the goat you get in a curry house could be more tough as they probably have used a cull goat."

According to Chris goat meat is a healthy meat, lower in saturated fat than chicken and turkey and high in iron and protein. They are ideal for curries, tagines and BBQ.

After Christmas Chris's goats like nothing better than to snack on discarded Christmas trees. "You have to make sure they haven’t been sprayed with anything toxic.”

The goats are typically grateful for the winter snack, said Chris. By December most goats are fed hay, which is nutritionally sufficient but perhaps a bit boring for such varied eaters. As a fringe benefit, tannins in Christmas trees work as a natural anti-parasitic.

“They are also very high in Vitamin C,” added Chris.

“It’s unbelievable They just go mad for them. They just can’t get enough. They will strip off all the greenery and then once they’re done with that they’ll nibble off the bark,” explained Chris.

“We house our goats in the winter because they will naturally have a lack of lanolin at this time in their coats, and we feed them on hay and molasses, but the trees will supplement their diet. They love the taste and, because I have high welfare standards, I like the fact they naturally have a lot of goodness in them,” said Chris.

"They are natural browsers and like to eat hedgerows normally. They like something tough as well, and they will demolish a Christmas tree. Goats have a digestive system similar to that of a cow, which has a multi-chambered stomach, and so we do feed the youngstock a rearing nut which is similar to that fed to dairy heifers. But we have also come up with a better nut that is high in protein. He chose Boar which is bred specifically to produce meat“Meat from Boer goats is generally better in both texture and flavour than meat taken from a dairy goat animal,” he explained.