Earlier this term, Fifth Year and Lower Sixth pupils toured Warrendale Farms, part of a Yorkshire based Wagyu Beef Business which works with over 500 farmer partners across the UK. The visit gave pupils an understanding of the scale of variety of jobs available within the business and the opportunity to speak with staff about key skills, competencies, and qualifications necessary for employment in the food production sector.
Lower Sixth student, Aleck Brown gave the following account of the business:
“Warrendale Wagyu was founded in 2017 as a branch of Warrendale Farms to produce high-quality Wagyu beef sustainably. A group of Fifth Year and Lower Sixth students had the privilege of visiting the company’s butchery unit and farm offices in Warter, where we were welcomed by former school governor Jim Bloom, owner and managing director of Warrendale Farms Ltd. We then were invited into the company’s boardroom to find out a bit more about the company and the various routes into the agricultural industry.
Wagyu is a breed of cow originally from Japan renowned worldwide for its taste and texture, it has seen a huge increase in popularity in the UK with Wagyu cattle registrations up 30% from January to November 2022 compared to the previous year. To feed this growth in demand, Warrendale Farms has created a network of 650 farms to rear 30,000 cattle along with various pig and poultry enterprises.
The process typically starts at a dairy farm where Holstein dairy cows are crossed with a purebred Wagyu to form an F1 crossbreed. When the calves are born a DNA sample is taken allowing the adjustment of nutritional and breeding decisions depending on the qualities of the finished product. The cattle are then raised for 25-26 months where they are then taken to be processed at a nearby abattoir. The meat is then sold to Aldi and Waitrose before finally reaching the plate of the consumer.
In addition to major retailers, Warrendale operates a small, but highly productive butchery unit, which we were lucky enough to tour. After putting on the appropriate food safety clothing, we were given a demonstration of how Warrendale’s ‘Ranch Steaks’ were prepared. A large topside joint of beef called a ‘primal’ was expertly cut into 8oz slices before being placed in a bag that is vacuum sealed and refrigerated. We were fortunate enough to take a steak home each (I don’t think many of them survived uneaten by the following morning). Warrendale also offers direct-to-your-door delivery for its butchery produce ordered on their website; this service was opened in 2021 and receives around 60 orders a day delivering top-quality Wagyu to both consumers and restaurants near and far.
After touring the butchery unit, we drove to Nafferton to view the ongoing conversion of a turkey shed into a chicken shed for a tenant farmer. We walked through the shower area for farm workers designed to combat avian influenza and then followed a conveyor belt from the packing room into the main shed. Running down the centre of the shed was a long line of nest boxes where the birds can lay their eggs. These eggs are then removed via the previously mentioned conveyor belt to the packing room to be boxed before being shipped to the purchaser.
Overall, it was a very interesting and informative trip that allowed us to see a small section of the supply chain from where our food comes from and some of the quality products Warrendale Wagyu produces along with the wide variety of career prospects the agricultural industry offers.”