The Reid family has been farming in the fertile Six Mile Valley near Doagh for at least five generations. Since the mid 1990s a more ecologically diverse environment has been created at Riversdale Farm, through focussing on activities such as tree planting and hedge restoration. Initially a mixed dairy farm, in 2017 the decision was taken to pursue a new direction. Having compared a Wagyu sirloin steak with an alternative high end aged sirloin, we decided the Wagyu was better by far. This led to the foundation of the Riversdale Wagyu herd!
The farm was recently showcased in Series 1:7 of the BBC 2 production ‘B&B by the Sea’.
Riversdale Farm Ethos
At Riversdale Farm , as is the case on most farms in Northern Ireland, grass grows very well. The cattle on the farm have a diet which is grass based. From April until around October, the cattle graze in the fields. Grass is harvested during the summer to make hay and haylage, which is then fed through the winter. The winter diet, when the animals are housed, is supplemented with barley grown at Riversdale and wheat and peas, which are grown on a nearby farm. Some dried Irish seaweed is also added to this mix to ensure the cattle get all the vitamins and minerals they need. As well as eating home-grown hay and haylage, the cattle also eat barley straw produced on the farm, which helps maintain a healthy digestive system.
Wagyu at Riversdale
All the cattle at Riversdale have their own names, (which can be seen on the Australian Wagyu Association website by searching for Riversdale Wagyu) as well as individual quirks and personalities. It should be noted that Riversdale Wagyu is a very young herd, and Wagyu a very uncommon breed in the UK. This means we are constantly learning and adapting in order to best manage and meet the needs of the cattle. Outside Japan, where the breed originates, the biggest Wagyu herds are in Australia and the USA. In these countries the cattle often spend a lot of their lives in feedlots. We don’t think that system makes best use of the natural resources at Riversdale. Our cattle spend as much of their time as possible outdoors grazing in the lush green fields.
The Herd’s Diet
Like most farms in Northern Ireland, grass grows very well on Riversdale Farm. The cattle on the farm have a diet which is grass based. From April until around October, the cattle are in the fields. Grass is also harvested in summer to make hay and haylage, which is then fed through the winter. The winter diet, when the animals are housed is supplemented with barley grown at Riversdale and wheat and peas, which are grown on a nearby farm. Some dried Irish seaweed is also added to this to ensure the cattle get all the vitamins and minerals they need. As well as eating local hay and haylage, the cattle also eat barley straw which helps maintain a good digestive system.
We are trying to maintain a healthy balance with wildlife by maintaining hedges and planting new trees. Over three acres of the farm were planted with a mix of native trees in 2014.
A three acre plantation of native trees was established on the farm in 2014 and named Walter’s Wood. Walter Reid was the name of at least four generations of farmers in this family, so the name provides a fitting link with the past. Planted with at least twenty species of native Irish trees, the wood features pathways and seating areas. Forming an approximate ‘W’ shape, the main paths have been left unplanted , allowing us to easily walk around and enjoy this tranquil space. The trees have grown successfully year on year, providing an ideal haven and nesting habitat for birdlife, including summer visitors such as willow and sedge warblers and chiffchaff.
We are selling our primary and secondary wagyu cuts from here at the farm by appointment or delivery. The meat is regularly assessed by the Australian Wagyu society and is receiving very high marbling scores (see http://wagyuinternational.com/20210525-1001.php).
Our burgers are sold in Coleman’s Farm shop which has been rated as one of the top 30 farm shops in the United Kingdom.
Riversdale Farm, County Antrim Northern Ireland