Hartpury College

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Animal and Land 12Jan 2016

Business is booming for Hartpury sweethearts as foodies everywhere get their goat

Business is booming for Hartpury sweethearts as foodies everywhere get their goat

Two agricultural entrepreneurs are reaping the rewards after sowing the seeds to grow a successful business while they were studying together at Hartpury.

While some of their fellow Hartpury students were set on following more conventional farming career paths, Tom Mitchell and his fiancee, Aimee Parry, both 23, bucked that trend to set up the ‘Happy Goat Company’.

Having convinced Tom’s parents to agree to this unusual diversification on the family farm in Wormelow, Herefordshire back in 2011, the pair invested in two pet goats, Rosie and Monty, while they were still students at Hartpury.

Four years later, the couple’s booming business boasts around 100 goats and, with demand for their products growing, they are planning an expansion of their premises on Tom’s family farm.

Aimee, who studied a Level 3 Extended Diploma in Animal Management at Hartpury, said: “I’d been doing some work on dairy farms to gain some experience and Tom, of course, had grown up on one.

“There were so many people producing home bred beef and lamb but we both wanted to do something a bit different, so we looked at what could be done with the billy goats that were being wasted in the dairy industry.

“Goat is actually the world’s most commonly eaten red meat, but when we started up, it wasn’t particularly popular in the UK and we had to create our own market for our products. Demand has exploded here in the last 18 months to two years though, and not only from the growing ethnic minority populations.

“It’s become a trendy meat as people get more adventurous with food and it’s profile is growing. It’s even been on I’m a Celebrity!” Tom and Aimee’s business is also benefiting from the fact that UK consumers increasingly want to know where their food is coming from and the increased demand for local produce.

Tom, who studied an Extended Diploma in Farm Mechanisation before progressing on to an agriculture-based degree at Hartpury , said: “At the Happy Goat company, we breed the goats, we rear them and, after we get the carcass back from the local abattoir, we process the meat too.

“People feel reassured knowing that we manage the process from start to finish and we get fantastic feedback about the quality of the meat.

“It’s hard to believe looking back that we started out with only two pet goats! We still have Rosie now, and the first four female kids she had, but unfortunately, Monty had to be put down last year.

“We didn’t start really breeding goats until 2013 and we now have 35 breeding nannies and 65 fattening goats, and, having created a market, we can now sell live animals as well as breed stock.

“We started small on my grandfather’s mixed farm, which we now run together. It’s a sheep and arable farm and we’ve always run the Happy Goat Company from there, but we’re now expanding into some refurbished sheds. We need goat-proof accommodation if we‘re going to continue to grow!”

Although Tom and Aimee initially only sold to pubs and restaurants in the region, demand for their products has meant they also now have a strong customer base at farmers’ markets and on the internet at www.thehappygoatcompany.co.uk, although they still sell at the farm gates too.

The pair recently returned to their old stomping ground at Hartpury to support a farmers’ market at the campus as the college held its own British Food Week, serving up goat, apricot and almond tagine, sausages and burgers to the current crop of students.

“Word of mouth is still hugely important to our business,” added Aimee.

“Our customers have been our best ambassadors and after putting in so much hard work, we’re thrilled that the business is making money and is sustainable now. We both feel really privileged to be doing something we both feel so passionately about too.

“Our goats can run and play outside during the summer and spend the winter in warm barns. That makes them healthy and happy and that’s why we think our meat is so good.

“I was definitely the odd one out on my animal course at Hartpury! While everyone else wanted to focus on the small animals, I wanted to be with the livestock. It’s paid off now though and it’s great to see the business continue to go from strength to strength.”

Two agricultural entrepreneurs are reaping the rewards after sowing the seeds to grow a successful business while they were studying together at Hartpury.

While some of their fellow Hartpury students were set on following more conventional farming career paths, Tom Mitchell and his fiancee, Aimee Parry, both 23, bucked that trend to set up the ‘Happy Goat Company’.

Having convinced Tom’s parents to agree to this unusual diversification on the family farm in Wormelow, Herefordshire back in 2011, the pair invested in two pet goats, Rosie and Monty, while they were still students at Hartpury.

Four years later, the couple’s booming business boasts around 100 goats and, with demand for their products growing, they are planning an expansion of their premises on Tom’s family farm.

Aimee, who studied a Level 3 Extended Diploma in Animal Management at Hartpury, said: “I’d been doing some work on dairy farms to gain some experience and Tom, of course, had grown up on one.

“There were so many people producing home bred beef and lamb but we both wanted to do something a bit different, so we looked at what could be done with the billy goats that were being wasted in the dairy industry.

“Goat is actually the world’s most commonly eaten red meat, but when we started up, it wasn’t particularly popular in the UK and we had to create our own market for our products. Demand has exploded here in the last 18 months to two years though, and not only from the growing ethnic minority populations.

“It’s become a trendy meat as people get more adventurous with food and it’s profile is growing. It’s even been on I’m a Celebrity!”

Tom and Aimee’s business is also benefiting from the fact that UK consumers increasingly want to know where their food is coming from and the increased demand for local produce.

Tom, who studied an Extended Diploma in Farm Mechanisation before progressing on to an agriculture-based degree at Hartpury , said: “At the Happy Goat company, we breed the goats, we rear them and, after we get the carcass back from the local abattoir, we process the meat too.

“People feel reassured knowing that we manage the process from start to finish and we get fantastic feedback about the quality of the meat.

“It’s hard to believe looking back that we started out with only two pet goats! We still have Rosie now, and the first four female kids she had, but unfortunately, Monty had to be put down last year.

“We didn’t start really breeding goats until 2013 and we now have 35 breeding nannies and 65 fattening goats, and, having created a market, we can now sell live animals as well as breed stock.

“We started small on my grandfather’s mixed farm, which we now run together. It’s a sheep and arable farm and we’ve always run the Happy Goat Company from there, but we’re now expanding into some refurbished sheds. We need goat-proof accommodation if we‘re going to continue to grow!”

Although Tom and Aimee initially only sold to pubs and restaurants in the region, demand for their products has meant they also now have a strong customer base at farmers’ markets and on the internet at
www.thehappygoatcompany.co.uk, although they still sell at the farm gates too.

The pair recently returned to their old stomping ground at Hartpury to support a farmers’ market at the campus as the college held its own British Food Week, serving up goat, apricot and almond tagine, sausages and burgers to the current crop of students.

“Word of mouth is still hugely important to our business,” added Aimee.

“Our customers have been our best ambassadors and after putting in so much hard work, we’re thrilled that the business is making money and is sustainable now. We both feel really privileged to be doing something we both feel so passionately about too.

“Our goats can run and play outside during the summer and spend the winter in warm barns. That makes them healthy and happy and that’s why we think our meat is so good.

“I was definitely the odd one out on my animal course at Hartpury! While everyone else wanted to focus on the small animals, I wanted to be with the livestock. It’s paid off now though and it’s great to see the business continue to go from strength to strength.”

09 Dec 2016 Animal and Land

Hearths of Hartpury villagers will keep burning bright thanks to student firewood delivery

Hartpury students put their wood-chopping skills to good use and delivered dozens of bags of firewood to the Hartpury village community in time for Christmas.

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09 Dec 2016 Animal and Land

Creature comforts just in time for Christmas!

Everyone spruces up their home ready to welcome Christmas guests and now some of Hartpury’s animal residents have received the gift of a festive makeover!

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08 Dec 2016 Animal and Land

Hartpury’s unique deer herd sees students get hands on with Rudolph and company!

Most of Hartpury’s agriculture students are used to handling lambs and calves but a new initiative at the college – the only one of its kind in the country – is seeing them get hands on with a herd of deer, with Rudolph leading the way!

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06 Dec 2016 Animal and Land

Hartpury’s farming entrepreneurs banking on budding business ideas

Our third year agriculture students got the opportunity to expand their entrepreneurial experience when advisors from NatWest visited Hartpury. 

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