“As a kid I was always told quality over quantity,” says Ryan Cockburn, who co-manages Alburn Farming Ltd. “And that’s exactly what you are getting when you choose First Light meat.”
Ryan has seen the demand for First Light first-hand – he and partner Stevie accompanied a team of First Light management and farmers to the USA in 2018, demonstrating the premium product in stores and meeting customers, butchers and meat managers.
“We got involved with First Light because we wanted to get more reward for the effort we put in to producing our products on-farm, and not to be just part of a commodity line,” he says. “It’s helped our business become more structured. We are able to budget on what we are going to get for our animals due to having a forecasted payment price – we’re not left wondering what we are going to earn for our product.”
Ryan and his grandfather, Alan Tindall, manage their family farm at Seafield, near Ashburton. “Three generations are still involved to some degree,” says Ryan. Their model is mixed arable farming, growing wheat, barley, linseed, pak choy, radish, kale, process pea and sweetcorn. Alongside that, they buy in around 100 First Light Wagyu mixed sex weaner calves, and 50-100 store cattle to finish. “In 2020 we will also winter around 500-500 head of Wagyu cattle.”
Alburn Farming took out the cup for best milling wheat grown in 2019 at the United Wheatgrowers competition. It also won First Light’s Wagyu Supplier of the Year prize in 2018, which is awarded to a supplier consistently demonstrating exemplary farming practices and communication. Ryan says First Light’s values align with their own. “Honesty, reliability, accountability… if you can’t stand by what you do on-farm then you shouldn’t be part of First Light. First Light is a team – a big family – and if one person lets things slip it affects the whole group. We enjoy working together as a group to get the best results for the group. Profit is not the main driver – but it’s a by-product of passionate people wanting to do better.”