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Further award for top Norfolk beef unit

PUBLISHED: 09:56 10 November 2007 | UPDATED: 13:47 22 October 2010

An award-winning Norfolk beef enterprise has enjoyed further success for its "exemplary management" of an extensive Broadland farm.

It was 20 years ago that Barry Brooks, of Beckhithe Farms, Reedham, laid the foundations of his business by buying marshes at Halvergate.

An award-winning Norfolk beef enterprise has enjoyed further success for its "exemplary management" of an extensive Broadland farm.

It was 20 years ago that Barry Brooks, of Beckhithe Farms, Reedham, laid the foundations of his business by buying marshes at Halvergate.

Now the family business, which is a key supplier to Waitrose and covers about 4,000 acres of grazing and upland arable

land at Hall Farm, has won Natural England's regional competition.

Mr Brooks and his son-in-law, Gary Gray, were presented with the latest award for "exemplary management of wildlife, landscape and access" at Beckhithe Farms at the farm's conservation barn.

Now, the farm, which won the Farmers' Weekly Beef Enterprise of the Year Award, is in line for Natural England's national conservation award. It will be presented on Thursday at Burghley House, in Lincolnshire.

Mr Gray, who runs the family enterprise in the heart of the Norfolk Broads, leads a nine-strong team running the 1,000-cow black Limousin herd.

"These awards are a result of hard work by all the team, and we also work very closely with our suppliers," said Mr Gray, who said a strategy of weekly meetings with all the staff had paid dividends.

"It's pointless Gary and I wanting to put something into practice when the guys grafting out there don't think it will work," said Mr Brooks.

He was able to extend the scale of the enterprise about 10 years ago when more land became available.

Beckhithe works closely with the Waitrose team and aims to supply about 800 finished cattle a year. Mr Gray said his team of three, Lee Brister, Stuart Hannant and James Fisher, managed the cattle.

They are assisted by Garry Noakes and Darren Rix, who straw and bed down the cattle in the outdoor yards.

Darren's father, Brian, and Mark Fish are responsible for the cropping, which provide as much home-grown forage as possible. Dave Cullingford and Bob Plain look after maintenance and projects, and the whole office is run by Jackie Foreman.

Enthusiasm for the environment has included reinstating many miles of dykes and forming foot drains, and this has been recognised with awards from the Norfolk Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group.

The enterprise has also taken advice from the RSPB, and the farm is now home to pink-footed geese, lapwings, wigeon and golden plovers.

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