Countryfile visits Warwickshire. Matt Baker is with Shipston-on-Stour Young Farmers, where he tests his tractor skills and competes against Ellie in a tug-of-war.
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a county set deep in the heart of England,
rich in history, rural charm
and captivating countryside.
I'm going to be celebrating
the 80th year of the National Federation of Young Farmers
by brushing up on the old farming skills.
And I won't be chickening out on any of them.
While Matt's getting stuck in, something tells me
I'm going to be a bit saddle sore by the end of the programme.
I'll be learning the ladylike way to ride a horse side-saddle.
I'll also be trying out a classic British bike
and training to race against a former Olympic champion.
Tom's taking on an altogether more serious challenge.
These distinctive black and white cows
are the backbone of the British dairy industry,
but there's a cost to making sure that we are kept in milk,
so I'll be discovering what's being done
to stop the deaths of tens of thousands of dairy calves.
And Adam's up in the Yorkshire Dales.
I've come to see these wonderful Belted Galloway cattle
that help preserve this beautiful limestone countryside.
They live up on the moor here pretty much all year round.
They're hardy beasts but today they're enjoying the sunshine
and wallowing in the water here.
But I'm here to see if there's a good bull to buy.
A landlocked county in the heart of the England.
Warwickshire is a place of pastoral landscapes and picturesque towns
stretched out gloriously across 1,200 square miles.
'Tucked away on its southernmost border is Shipston-on-Stour.
'Founded as a sheep market in the 8th century,
'today farming is still very much at the heart of the local community
'amongst both the old and the young.'
It may sound like a contradiction,
but this year the National Federation of Young Farmers clubs
is 80 years old and it's something that I know all too well
because I'm its president.
Now, you wouldn't believe what our members get up to.
Welly-wanging is just the start of it. Wa-hey!
That's a beauty!
At this farm in Shipston-on-Stour,
they're putting on a county rally,
which I'll be taking part in later.
Across England and Wales, rallies like this take place
throughout the year, as young farmers aged between 10 and 26
get together to have some fun and pit their skills against each other.
It's something young farmers have been doing for eight decades.
While the way they farm has changed, their passions certainly haven't.
I'll tell you what, James, looking at these,
Young Farmers have certainly come a long way in the 80 years.
Hasn't it just, yeah?
So, 23,000 members these days but it all started back in Devon
when competition was the key.
Yeah, it did. It started with calf and pig rearing clubs.
United Diaries actually organised a competition to encourage young people
to raise livestock -
encouraged to raise the standards that livestock was being reared by.
-It was quite popular back then?
-It was amazingly popular, yeah.
It was the core competition that kick-started all Young Farmers.
In under ten years, there were over 100 clubs up and down the country.
The competitions have widened out a little bit
using more and more agricultural skill as well.
-So tractor maintenance and all that kind of stuff.
Exactly. There's a lot of people who owe their skills and careers
to the skills they picked up with Young Farmers.
-The Agricultural Minister for one.
-The Agricultural Minister.
-Some guy called Matt Butcher or something(!)
-Yeah, very good.
He was in Young Farmers.
You don't have to be a farmer to be a member of Young Farmers.
No, you don't have to "be one to be one" is the old phrase as it goes.
I'm not a farmer. I don't come from a farming background.
If you like being outside, then great.
If you like being stuck to a computer, then maybe not for you.
'There's a lot more to these clubs than just competitions, though.
'They give youngsters a voice on farming both here in the UK
'and in Europe and they are enjoying something of a resurgence.
'This club in Shipston-on-Stour started last year
'and is already thriving with nearly 50 members.
'I'm meeting one if its founders who's lending me his wheels
'to compete around the tractor course later.'
An absolute beauty. Show me the controls before you let me loose.
It's a fairly modern tractor.
So it's not difficult to drive.
All it is is forward and back on that lever there.
Your gears are here so if you want to go faster, it's the hare
and slower, tortoise.
And pedals then just as you would in a car?
Yeah, accelerator, brake and clutch. Simple.
-Let's go for a drive.
Look after it.
This machinery is a lot heftier than the stuff we have on our hill farm.
So, with ten tonnes at my mercy and a trailer in tow,
I'm making sure I get the hang of the handling out in an open field
before I attempt the course.
Right, well, I'm feeling OK actually in an open field
but there's parts of that course that are looking pretty tight
but I'm ready for the challenge.
While the guys here finish their preparations,
I'm heading off to meet one of the club's other young farmers
who's honing her rural skills.
Annabel James lives on a farm a few miles down the road
and is learning the art of shepherding from her dad, Will.
So your dad's teaching you the tricks of the trade
as far as sheepdog trialling or training is concerned. Good.
How long have you been doing it?
-Um, I have only just started.
-Right. How are you getting on?
Well, we're about to find that out, actually.
The challenge is then, Annabel,
for you to get them into that little pen at the end.
Yeah, go for it. Show us your skills. Good luck.
Away. Right, away.
Just to give you an idea of what's going on here,
there's quite a few sheepdog commands.
You might have heard of "come by" and "away."
If you imagine that your field is a clock,
when your dog is running clockwise, starts with a C, known as "come by".
And when your dog is running anticlockwise, it starts with an A,
Away. Get away. Get away.
Walk them on.
Good girl. Walk them on.
This is good, Annabel, it's very good.
Walk them on.
There we go. Teamwork. Perfect.
-How's she coming on, then, as a little pupil?
She's keen, so that's brilliant.
'Although Annabel's not planning to be a farmer herself,
'it's great to see how determined she is to learn these skills
'and stay close to her rural roots.'
Earlier in the year on Countryfile, we told you how eating British veal
could help prevent the needless deaths of thousands of dairy calves.
But is anything actually being done? Tom has been to find out.
'Black and white cows grazing in green pasture.
'It's a typically British rural scene
'and one we've been familiar with for centuries,
'thanks to our love of milk and a whole host of other dairy products.'
But behind this idyllic scene lies a problem
which affects many of Britain's dairy farmers
and, more pointedly, their newborn calves.
The problem stems from the fact
that cows need to regularly have calves to produce milk.
Roger Mason runs a dairy farm
here on the southern fringes of the Lake District.
Hi, Roger. Nice to see you keeping your ladies well fed.
-So tell me about the herd you have.
We keep around 150 milk cows, give or take ten either way,
giving 9,000 litres per cow per year.
Wow, that's a lot of milk.
How do you go about making sure
you've got plenty of milk most of the time?
Well, a cow has to be pregnant and have a calf
to be able to produce milk in the first place.
It's just a case of getting a calf off a cow every 12 months.
So you've got a lot of calves being born to this herd?
Yeah, 150 cows, 150 calves.
'In an ideal world the female calves would go on to produce milk
'and the males could be reared to produce beef
'but as we reported back in January, it's not as simple as that.'
95% of our national dairy herd is of the Holstein type,
these familiar black and whites.
They've been specially bred to maximise milk yield,
making them perfect for the dairy industry
but not ideal for the economics of modern beef production.
'Dairy cattle just don't carry as much meat as beef breeds
'so they can cost more to rear than they sell for.
'That means while female calves are kept for milking,
'a quarter of all male or bull calves are shot at birth.
That's around a 100,000 animals every year.
'Members of the Beyond Calf Exports Forum are trying to change that.'
These calves have been historically viewed
as waste and treated as such.
What we wanted to do was see the number of calves exported reduced,
the number of calves being shot at birth reduced,
and an increase in the rearing of these calves in Britain
in higher welfare systems.
-So how are you doing?
-I think we're doing pretty well.
From a situation where most calves were exported or shot on farm,
now more than three out of four are being retained in Britain,
reared by British farmers to higher welfare standards.
'As John reported in January,
'one solution could be to rear surplus bull calves for veal.'
Dairy farmers want to rear their animals, look after their animals.
They want to see them have a life.
In the past, production of white veal from calves kept in cramped crates
was seen as cruel and it's an image that still persists.
But in reality those days are long gone, and now in the UK,
the meat from young cattle is a high welfare product.
A new couple of calves for Roger's farm.
British Rose Veal comes with the approval of both
Compassion In World Farming and the RSPCA.
Farmer's like Roger Mason have certainly noticed
an increase in interest since our last report.
Pretty happy to get in here, bouncing about.
That's right. It shows that they're nice and healthy and happy.
-How are veal sales going?
-Yeah, they are on the up.
I think the awareness of the public helps
and programmes like this help as well. It puts it out there.
I think it's always had bad publicity, from the '70s and '80s,
of the crates and cruelty, but now because they are welfare friendly,
people realise they can eat veal and it is good to eat it.
It should keep moving forward, but it is slow.
'So is there scope to sell even more?
'After all, in Europe, 10% of their cattle is reared and eaten as veal,
'whereas here in the UK it's less than 1%.'
So if someone came along to you and said,
"The solution to the problem of dairy calves being slaughtered at birth
"would be for everyone to go into veal," what would you say to that?
I just think it would flood the market
and there wouldn't be that market there for it at this stage.
But what do the people who have to sell it think?
The supermarket Asda is a member of the Beyond Calf Exports Forum
and made a commitment to stopping the deaths of newborn male bull calves.
Is veal their answer?
In the UK, we're not really a veal-eating country
and the issue is we do have customers coming in asking for veal
but they only want certain cuts such as the escalope.
The escalope equates for less than 10% of the carcass.
Then what do we do with the remaining 90%?
Then we get into food waste issues and bigger problems.
So your solution is some of it can go as veal
-but we've got to work on the beef?
'For people with high hopes that veal could stop all the wasteful deaths
'of dairy bull calves, this may come as disappointing news.'
Veal calves like this hungry fella are part of the solution.
They're just not the whole answer
but all is not lost, as we'll find out later in the programme.
This week we're exploring the beautiful Warwickshire countryside
and I'm trotting back in time
to learn about a rather elegant pursuit...
..the graceful art of side-saddle riding.
It was originally developed as a way for ladies to ride horses
in a modest fashion whilst also wearing fine clothing,
though snug-fitting jodhpurs seems to have relegated the spectacle
to the equine archives.
I'm meeting Susanna Forrest
who has recently written a book on its history.
So tell me about side-saddle riding. Where did it all come from?
It was basically a very patriarchal thing.
The first signs you get are on the Greek pots
when the nice Greek goddesses ride side-saddle
and the nasty war-like Amazons wear trousers and ride astride.
It kind of grew from there.
There began to be this idea it was something respectable ladies did
and it was for ceremonial use.
So why did it fizzle out then?
I guess it can't have been terribly practical really?
Basically what killed it to some extent was the First World War
because a lot of young women
who were posh, good hunting girls
ended up working in army remount depots as grooms
and as exercise riders for horses
and there was no point in them doing that side-saddle.
Once they'd shown themselves riding well and respectably astride,
after the war a lot of them just didn't go back.
So before you could say "votes for women",
the skirts were banished to the attic and everyone was riding astride.
But this small corner of Warwickshire
is playing a big part in the renaissance of side-saddle riding.
I'm at one of a few riding schools in the country
where you can learn the art.
Stable owner Roger Philpot is a leading international instructor.
-Hi, Roger. Who's this?
-This is Geoffrey.
Geoffrey, what a fine horse.
He's really known as Squadron Leader because of his moustache.
-He has incredibly long eyebrows. I love that. Off we go.
Warwickshire has had a long history with side-saddle riding, hasn't it?
It goes right back when hunting came through.
The actual Warwickshire Hunt is based a quarter of a mile from here.
This particular yard was used for liveries for a lot
of the masters of the Warwickshire Hunt who actually rode side-saddle.
-That is how we got involved in it originally.
'Roger has produced the Side-Saddle Rider of the Year in England
'for the last 14 years.
'Let's see if I've got any potential.'
Foot in the stirrup. To get on as if you're going to ride astride, OK?
-So here and then...
-That's it. Just swing your leg over.
-There we are. How does that feel?
-Feels very stable, actually.
-I can go now you're on.
-You stay here!
What I want you to do now is bring your right leg over that one
and keep your hips square.
That's the whole technique of riding side-saddle.
-So, my legs are at a right angle here?
-Yes, very slightly.
Your weight comes through from the right seat bone
through to the back of your right knee.
All the time you're riding side-saddle,
you're turning your body in a clockwise direction.
-I can already feel different muscles being used here.
-It's going to be good for me, I know it.
-You won't walk tomorrow!
You'd better have some reins.
I'll be walking in circles tomorrow if this right leg does all the work.
Just ask him quietly now to walk on.
Walk on. Good boy. Good boy.
-Bring that right shoulder round.
Are you going to keep going, yeah? Good boy.
The most important thing in side-saddle
is you've got to think elegance the whole time.
Right. Think like a lady. I can have a go at that.
You shouldn't find that very difficult.
Well, I could surprise you, Roger!
'I seem to have grasped the basics, but that's only the half of it.
'Time for a costume change.'
I feel terribly Jane Austen.
Maybe Mr Darcy could give me a hand with my buttons?
So now what I'm going to do is just undo
your modesty bit.
So this is what you would do to get on a horse.
Then keep turning round that way and it all comes out
and now we can see the whole shape of the habit.
Wow, that tailoring is amazing.
So your knee, when you're on side-saddle,
-fits into there.
-Look at that.
'So the "habit", as it's known, gives the illusion of wearing a full skirt
'when actually it's more like an apron.
'It's time for me to grace my trusty steed Geoffrey
'with all the refinement of the most dignified side-saddle rider.
'Failing that, I could always be an extra on Downton Abbey.'
No matter what kind of rider you are, you can't help but feel
incredibly elegant in this get-up on this fine horse as well.
'Although I think I'll feel it in my thighs later!
'Well, I've got a long way to go before I'm as good as this lot.
'To watch the ladies ride these noble beasts with such skill and poise
'truly is a sight to behold.
'As for me, Mr Darcy, pass me the muscle rub!'
Later in the programme, I'll be back in the saddle,
this time on a classic British bike.
You can't come to Warwickshire without mentioning the Bard.
John has been in Stratford-upon-Avon.
This is the Warwickshire countryside that surrounds the town
that will forever be associated with William Shakespeare.
And it's this peaceful landscape that provided inspiration
for the county's best known son when he was writing some of the plays
that made him world-famous.
This farm house is where William's mother, Mary Arden, was born.
And, as a young boy, he'd come here to visit his grandparents
from his home in the nearby town of Stratford-upon-Avon.
This would have been William Shakespeare's playground.
'It's now an educational working farm set 400 years ago
'so I'm taking a step back in time
'to see just how these surroundings influenced him.'
This all looks incredibly authentic but just set the scene for me.
Would it have looked like this in Shakespeare's day?
It would have been more rustic.
It would have been more like a working farm.
There would have been a lot of muck.
Shakespeare would have taken part in the life of the farm
when he visited his grandmother
and grandparents undoubtedly.
He would have been happy to turn his hand to mucking out the pigs
or collecting the eggs. He would have loved that
-He was a town boy, really, wasn't he?
-He lived in a town, yes.
Stratford was a town of 2,000 or so people in his time,
but it was a town, not very large, a town with 2,000 or so people.
Shakespeare was deeply imbued
in country life, in country pursuits,
in the landscape of the country.
And he brings it into a place, not consciously,
but because it is part of his mental set-up.
So he can't help but refer to these things.
But he does make fun of country people, doesn't he?
Up to a point he does, yes, but he makes fun of all sorts of people.
He sees the funny side of them.
We are still handling our ewes,
and their fells, you know, are greasy.
Ah, but does not your courtier's hand sweat?
And is not the grease of a mutton
as wholesome as the sweat of a man?
Shallow. Shallow. A better instance. Come.
'Sheep were a common theme in Shakespeare's work,
'including A Winter's Tale.'
Come, spare your blushes and be that which you are -
mistress of the feast.
Bid us welcome to your sheepshearing
so your good flock may prosper.
'I want to get a real feel
'of how Shakespeare would have experienced this farm
'so I present to you...Master John.'
If Ellie can get dressed up, so can I.
'Master Joe here tends to the animals using the same methods
'used in Shakespeare's day.'
This is something I've never done before, Joe.
Hand shearing a sheep.
But I suppose it's something
that young William would have been used to seeing.
Yes, I imagine he'd have been used to these kind of scissors as well
because his dad was a glove maker
and they used shears like this in the glove making trade.
Also his father was a dealer in wool.
Certainly with me an awful lot slower.
It would probably take me a whole day to do this.
There's no rush because this is very valuable.
In Tudor times, this was a very valuable crop.
What you want to try and do is get as close to the skin as possible
because that's where all the money is down there.
'In fact, back in those days, wool made up three quarters
'of the country's exports.'
I will leave this to you.
I was going to go and have a drink of ale while you finished it off!
OK, I'll try a bit more.
'In William Shakespeare's day, the clothes worn by farm workers,
'and just about everybody else, would have been made
'from the precious fleece.'
CAT-WALK MUSIC PLAYS
English wool was known worldwide to be the best.
The crafty mistresses would spin it into some fancy designs.
After a hard morning of labour on the farm,
it is time to prepare for dinner Shakespeare style.
In a Midsummer Night's Dream he wrote of several bad harvests
which just proves the wet spring we've had is nothing new.
But something could always be found in the hedgerows
if other crops had failed.
It seems dramatic touches weren't just saved for Shakespeare's plays.
This salad looks incredibly elaborate.
It was all about showing off.
You wanted to present your food
so that it was a feast for the eye as well as the stomach.
Your board was almost like a stage and you set it
and you wanted it to look good.
You wanted people to go, "Oh!" and gasp at it.
Thank you, Mistress Rosie. That looks good. Soup to start with.
How many courses altogether?
In the warmer summer months, your dinner would last up to three hours.
In that three hours you could have up to eight courses.
How could you work after that?
The reason for having such an extended dinner break
is so that your oxen are really well rested.
-I don't know if you've ever tried to make a tired oxen work...
..but it will sit down and not move again.
You need to have that rest.
It acts as a good excuse to have a nice long dinner break.
Absolutely. Yes. And it's lovely to get everyone together as well.
Here's to a very nice meal.
'Just one way that times have certainly changed down on the farm.'
I'm travelling through the lush landscapes around Shipston-on-Stour
meeting some of the members of its Young Farmers' Club,
the newest of more than 650 clubs across England and Wales.
The lad that I am about to meet typifies everything that
Young Farmers' Clubs is about.
Up until a few years ago he hadn't kept anything other than dogs
or cats, but now he has fallen in love with the farming lifestyle
and is surrounded by his own award-winning feathered friends.
How did all this come about?
I've always had a passion for the countryside
and it just grew from there really.
You've ended up with this little yard. How did you acquire this?
The next-door neighbour, a farmer, he keeps a few chickens down here
and I look after them for him.
-And he lets me keep some here as well.
-OK, so which ones are yours?
-The Buff Orpingtons.
This is it? You'll have chickens for the rest of your life?
Yes, definitely, chickens, turkeys, everything.
'Tom might be proud of his birds,
'but he can't afford to get too attached
'because they are bred for a purpose.
'Eggs, of course, but also meat.
'And before you can cook then you've got to pluck them.'
-You don't get them like this in the supermarket.
-No, you do not.
'Tom has even entered chicken-plucking competitions,
'so with two birds ready for the pot he has given me a masterclass.'
-These are still warm, aren't they?
-Yes, they are still warm.
OK, and where do you start with a record-breaking chicken pluck?
You have got to start... You've got to think which body part loses
the warmth quickest.
-You start with the wings.
-Then the legs.
-You just pull upwards, yeah?
-Yes. Just twist them.
'Tom's record pluck took just 20 minutes.'
-Tom's onto his second wing.
'And it will take more than a wing
'and a prayer for a novice like me to top that.'
I've obviously got quite a bit of this bird left to do
so while I continue, here's what else is coming up
on tonight's programme.
'Ellie is back in the saddle and going for gold...'
John is beating me on the last corner.
'..Adam's up in Yorkshire looking for a new bull...'
-I quite like the look of that black one there.
'..and we'll have the Countryfile weather forecast
'for the week ahead.'
The dairy industry is part of what makes the British countryside tick,
but there is a price to pay for those lush green fields
and beautiful black and white cows as Tom has been finding out.
Every year around 100,000 dairy bull calves are shot
at birth because as boys
they can't produce milk and it costs too much to rear them on for beef.
'As we've heard, turning them into veal is one option,
'but there's simply not enough demand to cope with all those
'extra calves, so what else could we do?'
In an ideal world, every calf born on a dairy farm would be female
and then it could be milked just like its mother.
But that's not possible, or is it?
'At these labs in Cheshire, they're leading the way in the development
'of something called sexed semen -
'effectively, separating the girls from the boys.'
Here is where you can actually see an individual sperm sample.
It looks very busy, but what are you seeing there?
I'm seeing a really good sample here.
As you can see, there's one or two dead sperm there.
A lot swimming are around in straight lines.
We've got one with a bent tail.
That's not going to get anything in calf.
-It's looking pretty potent, is it?
What exactly is sexed semen?
If you look back on the screen over there, we saw a lot of semen
swimming around and you've got 50 percent female, 50 percent male.
What we want to be able to do
is provide our customers with female calves.
The only difference between a male and female sperm
is a female sperm carries 3.8 percent more DNA
so we add a dye to the sperm.
Because the female sperm has got more dye, she glows brighter.
We then pass past some magnets here
and when the semen comes through
in a single droplet we give a positive charge
and we end up with a female sperm ending up in this pot here.
That pot has got what you want. It's just got female sperm?
There is over 90 percent female sperm in there
and 100 percent live sperm.
'This technology has been developed for over a decade
'and is now being used on farms to inseminate cows across Britain.
'One of the daily farmers trying it out is Geoff Spence.'
Why is sexed semen so useful to dairy farmers like you?
It solves the issue of having a lot of bull calves
and sexed semen gives you a good guarantee of a heifer calf.
So I'll just clean that area there and then we pop the...
-So that is the actual straw with the semen in it?
-That is right. Yes.
That is just through the cervix
and we just drop it in
and the semen works its way up the fallopian tubes and...
-Does the business.
-Does the business, yes.
'Waitrose, Tesco's, Sainsbury's and Asda
'are all now supporting the use of methods like this.'
Sexed semen is becoming more widely used,
but it's not a miracle solution.
It's quite pricey, it's a complex procedure,
and not always 100 percent reliable.
Let's get back to that original question - why not rear
more dairy bull calves as beef?
'The argument against doing just that has always been simple economics.
'Because dairy cattle aren't designed to produce meat,
'they don't fetch as much at market as their beefier counterparts,
'and because they cost money to feed and house, on average £400 each,
'farmers aren't always able to make money when it comes to selling them.'
But times are changing.
Demand for beef is on the way up and that increases prices.
'So should we consider keeping some of those 100,000 calves to
'sell on as beef rather than shooting them?
'Members of the Beyond Calf Exports Forum think we should.'
Beef from dairy bull calves can be
just as good in terms of taste
and better in terms of health attributes.
Dairy bull beef from Holstein Friesians can be lower in bad fats,
higher in the good stuff, so it is a better quality product.
So those who say that the best beef comes from a beef breed,
an Aberdeen Angus or a Hereford, or a Galloway
or something like that, are they wrong?
What's wrong is to think that dairy bull calves can't produce
good quality beef.
They can and they do.
That is what a great part of the industry is now picking up on.
'But not everyone is as convinced
'that dairy cattle make such a good beef product - and with good reason.'
It's at the back end where you really see
the difference between a beef breed and a dairy breed.
Dairy cows tend to have a much more bony rump
because so much of the energy is going into the milk,
going into the udder,
whereas your classic beef breed will be much beefier on the back end.
'But there is another way to make your dairy calves beefier -
'a bit of crossbreeding.
'This Holstein dairy cow was inseminated
'by a beef-producing Wagyu bull
'and she's just become a proud new mum.'
Who's this cute little addition to the herd?
This is a freshly calved Wagyu-cross-Holstein calf
just born about two hours ago.
What's the significance of this Wagyu breed?
Wagyu is deemed to be the best beef in the world. It's a Japanese breed
and the traditional cross in Japan is Wagyu-crossed-Holstein
that yields fantastic eating-quality meat.
That means we can replicate it here in the UK
and produce the finest top-quality meat for our customers.
'So from crossbreeding and sexed semen to rearing animals as beef
'and veal, there are plenty of options in the quest to stop
'the deaths of newborn dairy bull calves.
'But how near are we to eliminating the problem completely?
'The supermarket Asda believes it has cracked it.'
We've been working with our farmers trying to solve this problem
since 2007 and we are there now basically.
By getting them to use sexed semen,
encouraging sexed semen through discounts,
through trial work that we are doing, and by discounting
beef semen such as the Wagyu and other breeds,
we're pretty much there.
You have achieved that aim of being calf neutral pretty much?
Yes. We are there.
'Calf neutral means no wasted bull calves.
'Quite an achievement.
'But the industry as a whole has some way to go yet.
'Thanks to our love of milk and all things dairy,
'cows will always need to have calves to maintain milk production.'
For many years, the death of these bull calves
was dairy farming's guilty secret.
But, as we've seen, exposure of that painful truth and huge efforts
by farmers and some retailers
mean that now fewer of these young lives are wasted.
Down on the farm, Adam is preparing for summer
and so are his animals including hundreds of new arrivals
getting to grips with life in the great outdoors.
Lambing is over now but we have had a month of wet cold weather
and the lambs haven't grown quite as fast
as I might have liked them to do.
But now the sun is out, they're basking in its glory,
there's quite a few sheep chilling out lying in the sunshine
and this stream divides the top part of this field and the bottom half.
We're grazing is bottom half first.
They are starting to get a bit hungry.
Some of the lambs are looking to jump across.
There are two that have already gone the wrong side.
Now they want to jump back and be with their mum.
Here they come.
'While my flock are in good health, enjoying the much-needed sunshine,
'on the other side of the farm my piglets are sharing a field
'with a breed of cattle that I'm very fond of.'
I've got three Belted Galloways -
aptly named because of this lovely white belt around their middle.
They come in three different colours -
a red one, a black one, and a dun one.
They're a lovely cattle. I'm very fond of them.
We had them on the farm now for about 30 odd years.
They produce a fantastic beef -
a very hardy animal that lives outdoors all year round.
A couple of years ago, I sadly lost my stock bull to TB.
So last year we had to use artificial insemination
to get these cows pregnant.
Hopefully they're all in calf.
When they calve, I'll need another bull,
so although I went out shopping for an Irish Moiled Bull very recently
I've got to go again.
'I'm prepared to travel quite a distance for this one
'because I'm keen to find the right bull for the girls back home.'
I'm heading to Malham in North Yorkshire and I'm just
coming into the Dales now with these classic dry stone walls
to meet up with an old buddy of mine, a guy I went to agricultural
college with and he's got a big herd of Belted Galloways.
'Neil Heseltine is fourth-generation farmer up here in Yorkshire.
'His Belted Galloways spend all year out on the uplands
'and they seem to love it.'
-Adam, how are you doing?
-Good to see you.
All right, yeah, pretty good. This is Malham Cove at its best isn't it?
It is. You will not see anything better. It is beautiful today.
Much needed sun.
-All limestone through here?
-All limestone, yes.
Obviously limestone cove and all those walls are limestone.
For me this is completely different topography to what I am used to.
-You have it pretty easy down there in the Cotswolds,
it makes life easy, but, yeah, it's different terrain altogether.
How many Belted Galloways have you got now?
We're up to about 80 at the moment which is the kind of amount
we need to satisfy gazing requirements and that sort of thing,
-so that's about the number we need to be at.
-Where are they now?
They are right up on the tops
-so we can take you up there now to see them.
'Over the last 30 years cattle numbers have decreased
'in the upland areas, but the Belted Galloways have been
'introduced as part of a project to restore mixed grazing
'which has its benefits.'
Goodness me. I have never seen a scene like it.
They are having a bit of a wallow.
They are. It has got too hot for them.
-They have had to take to the water.
-Why Belted Galloways?
Obviously they look nice,
but they are also well suited to this environment.
They are hairy as you can see so in the winter
when they're up here they can still survive then.
They are easy calving and they can make meat
out of this not particularly productive grassland
we've got up here.
-You leave them up here all winter?
-Yes, all year round they're outside.
There is no straw, or no concentrates, or anything like that.
It's just what they pull from the grass.
-They are amazing cattle. They really are. They're incredible.
Conservation grazing is important?
Yes, we have introduced the Belteds to try
and alter what goes on up on this landscape.
We have taken some sheep off and introduced the cattle
because they graze it in a different way.
What were the sheep doing wrong?
The sheep are just a little bit too selective.
They actually eat the flowers when they flower
and the cattle are much less selective and then we take them off
at this time of year when the flowers are flowering
and setting seed and it allows them to develop.
-Is it working, do you think?
-Yes, it is.
Today up here there is an array of colour. That colour will change
as the summer goes on and different flowers flower
and, yes, there's definitely been a difference.
What about buying a bull?
We've got a few choices for you. We've either got an old bull,
he's about five years old,
but he is just starting to come back onto his own heifers
so he needs to move on. Or we've got some of his progeny, his sons,
that you can look at as well, so we've plenty of options.
Right, it's time to round this lot up
and Neil is working me like a dog.
Away! Look back!
'The cattle need moving off the moorlands to fresh pasture
'a mile down the hill.
'This allows the flowers to regenerate and seed
'and for the herd they get to feast on un-grazed grass
'at the bottom.
'Moving them is no easy task in this heat and on this rugged terrain.'
Come on then, girls. They're going along quite nicely now.
They are, once we have got them away from that water.
Yeah. There are some little tiny calves there.
Yes, they have just been born.
One was just born last night,
so it's a bit of a surprise to see that this morning.
You don't have to keep a careful eye on them - they are self-sufficient?
Part of bringing them down today is to keep an eye on them when calving.
But they do calve themselves 99% of the time.
Brilliant. So it's really easy-care cattle?
Yeah, easy care and the calves are really wick
when they are born so they get up and they are sucking straightaway.
-Yeah, they're great.
-Wick - is that a Yorkshire word?
-It is, yeah.
Alive, it means.
It's a long walk down off the hills. It looks like the cows might agree.
They have found a bit of water
so we'll give them a break for a couple of minutes.
-It is quite warm today. We'll just have a bit of a rest.
I don't think I have ever seen so many Belties in one place.
I've only got three!
I think the bull should marry those three, Adam.
-I think he should!
-We'd best get on with that job.
'Eventually, the cattle arrive at the lowlands.
'We cross a couple more fields and then the final stretch
'along the old stone lanes where the herd are driven into their new home.'
-Nearly there, Adam.
-They are going easier contained in these old walls.
-They are, they were a bit of a run around on that field.
I think they are getting a bit tired.
And these old tracks would have been used for driving stock along
-for thousands of years, wouldn't they?
-They will, yeah.
Malham's quite famous for its monks
and they will have brought cattle along these lanes
and then drovers after that.
-Literally, thousands of years.
-So what will happen to them now?
Well, we will leave them here for a couple of days, let them rest up.
And then they will stay down here until they calve again.
Once they get tagged and castrated, they'll be back up onto the hills.
-They seem happy, don't they?
-They are just resting up.
'But I have come here to do some bull shopping.
'And Neil has plenty to choose from.'
You've got a nice herd of bulls, Neil.
Yeah, they've done some good over the last 12 months.
-I quite like the look of that black one, there.
He's got a nice length on him, good depth of body,
smart-looking Beltie head and a good white belt around the middle.
-I think it's between that black one and that dun.
They have both a bit more length about them,
a bit higher off the ground.
-But good true-to-type Belties as well.
You wouldn't be wanting a lot of money for them, would you?
It depends who I am selling to, really, to be honest.
I was probably thinking around the two grand mark.
I think that's fair for a good Beltie bull.
-Well, let me check out his breeding and work out the haulage.
I might be able to arrange a trip down to you with him.
-That would be great. Nice one.
Next week, I'll be back on my farm,
tending to my animals that need extra attention during the summer months.
This week, Ellie and I are in the wilds of Warwickshire -
not a bad place to get inspiration
for our annual photographic on petition.
The theme this year is "walk on the wild side"
and we want wild landscapes, wildlife and even wild weather.
The best 12 will make up the Countryfile calendar for 2013,
sold in aid of Children in Need.
Here's John with a reminder of how to enter.
Our competition isn't open to professionals
and entries must not have won any other competitions
because what we are looking for is original work.
You can enter up to four photos
which must have been taken in the UK.
Write your name, address and a daytime and evening phone number
on the back of each photo with a note of where it was taken.
And then all you have to do is send your entries to:
Whoever takes the winning photo,
as voted for by Countryfile viewers, can choose from a range
of the latest photographic equipment to the value of £1,000.
And the person who takes the picture the judges like best
gets to pick equipment to the value of £500.
The full terms and conditions are on our website
where you will also find details of the BBC's code of conduct.
The closing date is July 22nd
and I'm sorry, but we can't return any entries.
Best of luck.
Stratford-upon-Avon - a town crammed with ancient buildings
and tourists on the trail of the world's most famous playwright.
Stratford-upon-Avon is a place soaked in history.
But while most people come here for the Bard,
I've come here to get my bike and get back into the saddle...
Stratford is also home to the oldest working cycle company
in England - Pashley's, which was founded in 1926.
Heritage is at the heart of these cycles where classic designs
are given a modern twist.
And every machine is still handmade to order.
But every new bike here starts as a few tubes of metal.
I'm going to help try to turn this into one of these,
a 1930s style race bike known as the Guv'nor.
That's the plan, anyway.
'I'm going to help create the heart of the bike - its frame.
'The joints are all hand-brazed in place,
'giving essential strength to the finished product.'
-Knock, knock. Hello, Mike, how are you doing?
-I'm very well.
'I'm being let loose
'under the watchful eye of experienced welder Michael Tomes.
'He seems relaxed at the prospect, but I am already feeling the heat.'
Can I do it some damage? Don't let me completely mess this up.
-Oh, no, it's fine.
-Are you sure? Go on, then. You crack on.
I need these, do I? Are you really sure about me doing this?
Yes, yeah, no problem.
You want to get the point of the flame
-right at the base of the material.
-How about that?
Once you see it start to go red, you can start dipping your rod into it.
Is that red? I've got dark glasses on, I can't see!
Shouldn't be a problem. Yeah.
This is like needlework,
but under the pressure of burning the place down.
-I'm sweating, Michael.
-It is a bit warm.
Oh, that was quite nerve-racking.
'For the safety of the person who ends up buying this bike -
'and the sake of my nerves -
'I think I'll leave the rest of the process to the professionals.
'Once it leaves here, each frame is checked, buffed
'and powder-coated with paint.
'It's then one person's job to assemble a cycle from scratch
'before it's ready to roll out of the door.'
They turn out 50 bikes a day here.
I am pretty sure I brought down that average today, but never mind.
Here it is, the finished bike.
And although it only just came off the production line,
come on, it exudes 1930s elegance.
I'm going to take it for a spin.
In fact, you can just tell that as soon as you sit in the saddle,
you're going to feel transported to another era.
It's not just me that's come over all nostalgic, though.
There's a passion for celebrating our past that, once in the saddle,
many find hard to resist.
RINGS BELL Now, tell me, what's with the tweed?
Tweed is commensurate with the era,
I guess, in which these bicycles are designed.
It takes you back to a completely different era.
It's the most relaxing thing to do. I mean, look at where we are now.
-It doesn't get any better than this.
Chris is part of the Guv'nors Assembly,
a group who always dress "traditionally" on their bikes
but it seems that their old-fashioned attire is catching on.
-So tell me about this Tweed Run?
-We get dressed up like we are now.
We tootle along around London.
The criteria is you actually have to ride wearing tweed.
And they get about 600 people riding it.
-We have a Manchester one, there is a Liverpool one...
'We might be enjoying a spot of peaceful perambulation,
'but some locals feel the need for speed more than the need for tweed.
'Head of the pack at Stratford cycling club
is 75-year-old John Oxtoby, who, I'm told, is a former Olympian,
'so I can't resist the chance to meet him and take him on.'
Right, I'm in more up-to-date cycling gear now, hence the funny walk.
And I'm here to meet John at his local racetrack.
But to me, I could be in the wrong Stratford,
cos that clearly isn't a velodrome.
-Hello, nice to see you, Ellie.
-Nice to see you.
Not the sort of place I would expect to find a medal-winning Olympian?
Well, it's a long story but that is the medal
and it is the Warwickshire Olympics, actually!
-I've never heard of the Warwickshire Olympics.
-I'm not surprised.
The team came fourth out of five.
'OK - so I'm following in the footsteps
'of slightly more modest sporting achievement than I'd thought.
'But I can't resist the chance to race against an Olympian of sorts.
'Since he's shown me his, it's only right that I show him mine.'
Right here, I've got the Countryfile Celebrated Sportsman gold medal.
Well, if I win, that'll be the first gold medal that I have ever won!
Could be yours, could be mine, who knows?
Three, two, one, go!
Come on, shoes, come on, shoes!
Oh, no! I've lost a shoe!
My heart's going.
Would you believe it?!
John is pipping me on the last corner!
I can't believe it! Come on!
-John, your gold medal at last.
Well, if you fancy getting out and about on your bike this week,
you'll want to know what the weather has in store for the week ahead.
'Today, we are in Warwickshire, where Ellie and I
'have been discovering how the heritage and modern-day heart
'of this area have been shaped by its breathtaking landscape.
'And my day has been building up to one thing.'
I have spent the day brushing up on the old farming skills
with the members of the Young Farmers Club. There they are.
This rowdy bunch are in for a treat,
cos I'm about to be let loose on this course here.
'The course has been laid out to simulate a farmyard,
'complete with its own barn and track around the outbuildings.
'All I've got to do is navigate it
'in the ten-tonne tractor and trailer.'
Tom set it up, didn't you? Just talk me through.
Fairly easy course, going round in an S shape.
It is very tight, I have had a go. Then reverse into the little barn.
Get nice and straight
and then just reverse in. Easy?
Yeah, easy as pie(!) Here we go, then.
'With a quick five-minute practice in an open field,
'the pressure is now on.
'I am president of the Young Farmers Clubs and I don't want
'to lose face in front of this lot.
'My mentor, Tom, doesn't seem entirely confident.'
If this was my workshop walls, I'd be quite scared.
'As predicted, the S-bend is the bit that proves tricky.'
Watch your trailer! Oh, he's getting it! Come on, in one! In one!
THEY CHEER AND JEER
'While the cautious approach might not be a crowd-pleaser,
'with the turn behind me, all I have to do now is reverse into the barn.
'And as my driver instructor always taught me,
'check your mirrors before you manoeuvre.'
Oh, using the wing mirrors!
-Well done, mate, you did very well. Well done.
It's tough around the top there, isn't it?
I told you it gets a bit tight. Now, it looked like you enjoyed that.
Yeah. Cheeky little course, that one, though.
'With my pride as Young Farmers' president still intact,
'there's time to relax.
'And whenever there's a party taking place,
'a certain Miss Harrison is never far from hand.
'But these get-togethers thrive on a dose of healthy competition.
'And that is something Ellie knows about all too well.'
Just driven past a cheering cyclist. He was well in his 70s.
Don't start! Thanks for that(!)
-You lost, then?
-Yeah, I'm afraid I did.
He was very fit, though.
-We've got a competition lined up for you.
-This is your chance. Have you ever tug-of-warred before?
-I have not.
-Once, once or twice.
-But this is good, OK?
You're going to be over there on the boys' team.
-I'm going to be on the girls' team.
-There's loads of them!
Yeah, well, we thought with boys and girls, 11 versus eight.
There are some big boys. I'm happy with that.
Come on, come and meet your team. This is Tom.
-You'll be in good hands. This is Ellie.
-Nice to meet you.
-Nice to meet you.
-In it to win it, yes?
-Who cares about blisters.
-Just have a look at these weapons here.
-Look at this. Absolutely unbelievable.
-Calves of steel.
And the belt.
-We are going to win.
-Do you know how this works, Ellie?
You just pull with all your might, right?
The idea is, we are trying to get these T-shirts over the middle
-and you're trying to get our T-shirt over the middle.
-Everyone pick up the rope.
Take the strain...pull!
SHOUTING AND CHEERING
Come on! Come on!
Come on, pull! Go on, come on!
You deserved to win. Bless you.
-How was that, did you enjoy it?
-I was amazed at my wrists.
Well done, lads, well done. Unlucky, girls, unlucky.
That's it from Warwickshire.
Next week, we are going to be down on the south coast in Dorset.
I'll be on the trail of Enid Blyton.
-And I will be on a reptile hunt. See you then.
-See you later.
Oh, my word! Well done, team.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
Countryfile visits Warwickshire in the heart of England. Matt Baker is with Shipston-on-Stour Young Farmers brushing up on his rural skills ahead of a rally, where he tests his tractor skills and competes against Ellie in a tug-of-war. Ellie Harrison is in the saddle, as she learns the ancient art of side-saddle riding and also tries out a classic British bicycle, training to race against a former olympic champion.
John Craven is also in the county of the Bard, where he looks at how Shakespeare's time spent on his mother's farm as a boy was reflected in his writing. He also finds out more about life as a Tudor farmer. Earlier in the year on Countryfile, we looked at how eating British veal could help stop the needless deaths of thousands of dairy calves. Tom Heap investigates if anything has changed. On Adam's farm, he is preparing for summer, and so are his animals, including the hundreds of new arrivals getting to grips with life in the great outdoors.