Five years ago, the UK’s first commercial outdoor-reared billy goat farm came to life. There were no guidelines. No government support bodies. It was a project that really had to start from nothing. ‘We’ve learnt as we’ve gone along,’ says Lizzie Dyer, who set up Just Kidding at Dartland Farm in the Cotswolds
Brought up on a traditional mixed farm in Somerset, Lizzie grew up all too aware of the fate of male offspring in the dairy business, dispatched at birth because they can’t produce milk. After travelling the world and discovering how delicious and versatile goat meat could be, Lizzie returned to the UK determined to combine sustainable farming with a solution to the huge waste of billy kids in the industry.
‘There’s an opportunity to say, why don’t we take something that’s being wasted, farm it and rear it in a sustainable way. And produce quality meat at the end of it?’ says Lizzie. ‘The goat dairy industry is well established, but rearing kid meat is in its infancy. There should be lots of us doing it.’
Lizzie’s degree in agriculture took her to the Cotswolds where she met Jamie. Jamie had built Dartland Farm from scratch and at just 25, Lizzie launched her business, buying unwanted billy kids from nearby dairy farmers and rearing them to sell as meat. Lizzie is one of few British farmers raising her billy kids outdoors and free-range. It’s this small-scale farming that produces grass-fed meat unlike any other goat meat available in the UK.
The farm itself focuses on sustainability with native hedges, over 500 tree varieties, an almost entirely self-sufficient water supply and solar-powered electric fences.
A feature on Jamie Oliver’s Channel 4 TV series, Jamie and Jimmy’s Friday Night Feast, launched a campaign to recognise kid meat as a healthy, tasty and sustainable alternative to chicken and beef. And there’s no doubt about it: public interest and restaurant menus are cottoning on. Just Kidding now supply restaurants around the country.
Kid meat is tender, and delicate and sweet in taste, and it’s as versatile as lamb. Nutritionally, kid goat is lower in sat-fat and just as high in protein when compared to beef, pork, lamb and chicken, making it a healthy - and tasty - source of red meat. Lizzie recommends playing around with different cuts and swapping them into your favourite dishes. Look out for marinated rack of kid and slow-cooked kid leg shawarma recipes coming on the site soon.