Having already got a well established farm supplies business, just twenty five years ago, Tony and Sue Cullimore decided on diversifying their farming enterprise by opening their farming facilities to local schools and the general public.
Today, Cattle Country is a thriving ‘adventure park’, situated on 184 acres just outside Berkeley, Gloucestershire, and attracting 100,000 visitors every year. It’s a true family run business, Tony and Sue being joined by their son James, and they spend a lot of time planning events, inviting local schools and promoting the facility throughout the region. They also employ up to 50 staff through the season.
“Rare breeds have always been a family passion, said James, “in fact my great grandfather was instrumental in saving the Gloucester Old Spot pig from extinction years ago and here today we have expanded our herd of cattle to include a wider variety, including rare breeds. We have White Park Cattle, Belted Galloway, Gloucesters, Longhorns and of course Herefords. In addition there is a small flock of Cotswold and Badger-faced Sheep, plus there’s Gloucester Old Spot, Kune Kune and Tamworth pigs.”
Cattle Country Adventure Park has a wide range of purpose built buildings to allow visitors to come and see all kinds of livestock, not only the farm animals but also guinea pigs, goats , poultry, donkeys and ponies and encourages people to come, handle and interact with the pets and livestock. Staff are always on hand to provide demonstrations, assistance and guidance. Additionally, there are extensive children’s entertainment facilities which include a castle, play barns, a boating lake, an assault course, jumping pillows, the UK’s tallest climbing net, plus play areas for kids as well as toddlers and a whole host more attractions. A special ‘animal centre’ was erected recently where visitors can watch lambing, sheep shearing, young chicks hatching or bottle feed goats, lambs and lots more. There are pens for the young animals and paddocks for the mature livestock which can be viewed from a distance - typically on a tractor-trailer ride around the farm. Full refreshment, wash and toilet facilities are available on-site so it can often be a day long visit with so much to do for the entire family. To find out more, you can log onto their website at www.cattlecountry.co.uk
Sue Cullimore is a retired primary school teacher and understands the need to educate children about farming and of course where our food comes from. “We set-up Cattle Country to help children and visitors to be able to understand how farming works, how their food is grown, how the fields are cultivated, crops planted, taken care of and then harvested. They get to see things such as silage being made and bales being wrapped - something that city school children rarely get to see or even understand. We also introduce them to the various daily activities and machinery that is required to run a modern day farming business. Too often in children’s books, farming is depicted as using little old Fergie tractors and pitch-forks, when the reality is that modern equipment today can be extremely advanced and very technical. We help the children and visitors to understand the high cost of investment in livestock and machinery needed to make a farm run efficiently.”
Throughout the year, Cattle Country focusses on typical seasonal tasks such as planting and harvesting, so children get the opportunity to try their hand at planting seeds, then coming back to see the crop grow and then being harvested “But it goes further than that, said James. “for example, we typically show the visitors what wheat looks like when it’s growing and when it’s harvested. We also show them how we grind the wheat and get them involved by making it into bread in the visitor’s centre. We go through the whole process so they have a complete understanding that bread doesn’t just come in a wrapper - it’s grown in the field, harvested and formed using natural products. At shearing time, we allow the children to take home samples of wool so they can feel the natural fibres coming straight from the fleece.
In the autumn, we are holding a machinery day, where static displays of equipment are explained as to their use and application. We will be demonstrating haymaking and cultivating to our visitors, so that they can get a better understanding of the different machinery used during each process, and the costs and time involved. Sometimes we need to borrow equipment and the nice people from Tallis Amos Group (TAG) are kindly bringing along a modern John Deere tractor and bale handler from their local branch in Dursley, so children can get up close to them and see just how big they are!
Cattle Country is a true success story with schools and visitors coming from as far away as Herefordshire, South Wales and Bristol. Said James, “Not only are we helping school children, their parents and grandparents get up close to many forms of farm livestock and witness the true meaning of food production, but we are also doing our bit to maintain the rare breed population in this country, which would otherwise be lost for those generations following behind.”