As we head down the farm track to meet Lizzie Dyer of Just Kidding, we catch sight of a field full of goats. They hear the engine and start to trot over to check out who’s arrived. Lizzie is busy milking the younger kid goats in the shed; we head in, and just like the goats in the field, they start to head over and we are met with a crescendo of kids bleating a hello. Lizzie smiles and says, “Kids are so mischievous and very inquisitive, they love playing and getting into trouble.”
Lizzie was brought up on a traditional mixed farm in Somerset. They had cattle for milking, beef, sheep and free range hens, so farming has always been part of her life. Now in her late twenties, this is her first farming business. She says, “I actually wrote the business plan for Just Kidding while I was studying a degree at the Royal Agricultural College, Gloucestershire.” She’d always been interested in British farming and while travelling in India and eating lots of goat meat, the seed was planted. When she returned to England and spoke to a number of chefs, she found the only kid meat being used was imported from France; there was no consistency or any commercial businesses in the UK.
After some initial research she started to talk to dairies. She says, “The dairies breed the goats for milk and cheese so generally male offspring are simply dispatched at birth. It seemed such a waste.” Although there is no blueprint in the UK for kid meat production Lizzie and her partner James Beard decided to press on. “Creating a new market for something means nobody can give me advice. Simple things like, what size do I want to get them too, how long do I hang it for, how do I charge it? I’m learning every day.”
“Our focus is to really look after the animals and try to produce the best meat we can, and also be as sustainable as possible.”
Lizzie is not breeding for meat, she simply buys off the dairy and is currently raising five to six hundred kids. They arrive a week old and are reared on milk until they are a certain weight. Then they head out to the fields and are free range, pasture fed and reared in a sustainable environment with no compromise on quality. “We let them roam free because if you’ve got a happy heathy animal, you’re going to have a better meat.” The meat is fully traceable and has been reared to the highest welfare standards. It has also won a number of Great Taste Awards for French rack, Cutlets, Whole Leg and Roll Shoulder. Every part of the kid is used: the meat, the offal and even the skin is sent off for tanning.
The meat is proving very popular; it contains less cholesterol than chicken, more iron than beef and is not forbidden by any of the main religions. Butchers love it because cuts like the premium diced meat are so lean they don’t need trimming. More and more chefs are putting it on the menus because of the tender, sweet taste and even the lesser cuts taste brilliant because of the high quality meat. Lizzie says, “Our focus is to really look after the animals and try to produce the best meat we can, and also be as sustainable as possible.”
As the business is new, Lizzie hasn’t inherited anything so it has allowed her to invest in some money-saving devices for the future. They harvest all rainwater so use very little metered water and all the electric fences run off solar. “We want to keep improving the business from a profit and sustainable focus.”
The future of kid meat relies on the consumer; it is currently an unknown in the UK but Lizzie hopes it will become more mainstream. “It is really healthy, full of taste and I want more people to be eating this great meat.” What Lizzie is doing is ultimately taking what was once a waste product and creating something that is both sustainable, tasty and will hopefully soon become a staple on the British menu.