Pip and Matt Smith launched Westcountry Premium Venison, in December 2019 from their successful family farm near Launceston.
The family farm has been in Pip’s family since 1703 and the couple took over the running of it together from her parents in 2014 with a flock of around 1100 sheep. Matt, originally from New Zealand, has travelled the world shearing sheep before arriving in Cornwall and meeting Pip. He currently holds the Nine Hour Full Wool Ewe World Shearing Record, shearing a total of 731 sheep – ten more than the previous record holder. The record was held on the family farm in Cornwall, the first time a shearing record and been held in the Northern Hemisphere and cementing Matt and Pips place in the community as innovators and creative rural thinkers.
Pip and Matt were inspired by their international travels, where they had seen successful farm diversification. Taking on the family farm was no exception and Matt and Pip instantly set into action bringing the farm to its highest commercial potential with extensive groundworks, a bespoke shearing shed for training and record purposes and building capacity to house and handle more sheep and eventually deer. They gained the Sheep Farmer of the Year award in 2017.
Responding to consumer trends, Pip and Matt acquired 250 breeding deer hinds in 2016, which has now grown to a herd of well over 500.
“As farmers, we are always looking for ways to keep moving forward and stay ahead of what other people are doing” Matt explains. “The market for venison is growing in the UK and we felt like there was an opportunity to expand what we do here. The deer are bred to high welfare standards, fed on rich pasture, and kept in mixed herds in spacious paddocks. I think if you do things well, that’s when they become profitable, but our biggest focus has always been on quality.”
With generous European LEADER funding through the Rural Development Programme and exceptional support and encouragement from the HSBC rural lending teams and the NFU, the next stage of development took the form of a state of the art abbatoir and deer handling system. By installing the ultimate complete system on the farm, the highest forms of handling and health can be guaranteed from gate to plate. From researched genetics, veterinary science led breeding programmes, bespoke handling systems and processes, coupled with exceptional end of life care and consideration, every single aspect of high health and meat quality has been considered.
With three children and a commitment to hard work, the farm retains its traditional charm whilst supporting several enterprises to solidify the families place in the rigorous working history of the farm.