Matt Chatfield

2022 Silver Sheep Farmer of the Year

The Cornwall Project,
Lower Town Farm,

MATT Chatfield had always wanted to farm but realised that on the acreage available to him he had to do things in a different way. Initially, he forged a career in London which included building a restaurant supply chain business supplying some of the city’s top chefs with high quality meat from Warren’s butchers in Cornwall. These contacts enabled him to later set up his own business, Cull Yaw, yaw being the colloquial name for ewe in Devon, selling mutton to chefs and online customers.

The inspiration for the business came from visiting Extremadura in Spain and seeing how the iberico farmers fattened their pigs over a long period of time to produce superior quality ham and he decided the same principles could be applied to ewes. Based on the 20-hectare (49-acre) holding in Halwill, Devon, where his family has farmed for generations, Matt buys cull ewes from local farmers and auction marts and fattens them over about six months. They are then slaughtered and hung before being sold as ‘Cull Yaw’ mutton. But it is how and where they are fattened which is really important.

Matt says: “The land includes five hectares of ancient coppice and the pasture had faced decades of chemical use and compaction. I now strip graze the sheep to resolve these issues in line with regenerative principles. “In two years, the pasture is working and I have trebled the amount of sheep I can graze. By coppicing and grazing, I have massively increased the watercarrying capacity and biodiversity of plants and animals. “I am on my way to proving there is a middle ground between conventional farming and rewilding.”

Matt is now selling 25 carcases a week. A lack of processing capacity is currently limiting the business but Warren’s butchers is in the process of investing in a specific cutting and hanging facility for the ewes which will enable the business to expand further.

Future proofing the business

  • Matt champions small farmers and environmentally friendly food production and has a huge social media following
  • Matt heads up the Cornwall Project working with farmers and fishermen to help them sell their local produce to top restaurants
  • The silvopasture system is benefiting both animals and the land
  • A healthy profit is being made on 20 hectares
  • Artificial intelligence/drone technology is used to measure carbon capture, water retention and biodiversity rates