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There’s so much more to Graham and Jocelyn Macklin’s Red Ruby Devon cattle than just the premium quality, grass-fed beef they produce. Rearing around 100 of these native burgundy beasts at Hayes Meadow in Exbourne, the couple’s ingenious ‘nose to tail’ approach and uncompromising desire to work in complete harmony with nature is earning them critical acclaim from customers nationwide.

Through their company of the same name, still in its infancy having launched right when Covid hit in 2020, Graham and Jocelyn have developed an extensive product offering of organic beef cuts and offal, bone broths, charcuterie, honey and, perhaps most uniquely, tallow skincare and soaps.

Derived from the suet fat found around the loins and kidneys of the cow, this natural relief for dry, irritated and sore skin has proved to be somewhat of a sales sensation.

“It’s our biggest investment, fastest growing and most exciting product,” says Graham. “Skincare sales have grown incrementally and taken on their own momentum, so much so that we’re now having to expand our processing facilities to meet demand.” But more about that later.

It was in 2017 that Graham and Jocelyn, parents of nine-year-old Michael John and eight-year-old Sabrina, took over and started running the Macklin family farm following the death of Graham’s mother.

“That was when we had the sobering reality of what you had to do to try and make a profit,” says Graham, who before becoming a full-time farmer was a successful creator of children’s books and toys, a career which entailed multiple trips to China. Also a keen spear fisherman and wreck diver in the nearby Philippines, it was here that Graham met his then wife-to-be, Jocelyn.

“It started us on this journey of having to explore nose to tail eating, making full use of the animal including bones, fat and offal to minimize waste and maximize return.”



Graham Macklin with some of his Red Ruby Devon cattle

As part of this period of transformation, the couple have made great strides to implement a wholly grass-fed, organic and regenerative farming model across their 100 acres, which means that Hayes Meadow is now certified organic through the Soil Association and Certified Animal Welfare Approved , Grassfed, Non-GMO and Regenerative by A Greener World (AGW).

Right from the beginning, Graham and Jocelyn have had a clear picture of their target market. “The person we wanted to appeal to was the purse string holder in the house, someone who is very discerning about their beef and wants a quality product that is one hundred percent grass-fed and organic,” says Graham.

“We have customers from so many walks of life, including Buddhist monks in Dumfries and Galloway, but they’re all coming to our beef for their health. Less really is more. They’re eating smaller portions, just once or twice a week, but they’re eating it for a purpose, rather than as part of a big barbeque. That’s not what we’re about.

“We put so much effort into the quality and purity of our product, so we wanted to make sure that our customers appreciate that too.”

And they have built their business around an online model, focusing on building up a steady stream of glowing reviews and offering free UK delivery for meat orders over £50.

Having previously traded at local farmers’ markets, the couple decided to cast their nets reflected in search of customers who share Hayes Meadow’s core sustainability principles.



Red Ruby Devon cattle owned by Graham and Jocelyn Macklin of Hayes Meadow
Red Ruby Devon cattle owned by Graham and Jocelyn Macklin of Hayes Meadow

“People are so much more comfortable with buying online and having it delivered to their doorstep,” says Graham. “I get up at 5.30am every morning and start packing my orders. I’m done by 8am and then the courier driver turns up at 8.30am, leaving me with the rest of the day to do work on the farm. Then I come home in the evening and start printing my orders again. It works!”

When it comes to cattle, Graham and Jocelyn’s breed of choice is the hardy yet docile Red Ruby Devon. Masters of self-sufficiency, Devons are renowned for their ability to thrive on minimal inputs; calving easily and producing progeny that converts grass protein into high quality beef – making them the perfect fit for Hayes Meadow’s tightly managed grazing system, which aims to boost biodiversity in the local ecosystem.

“We’re profoundly against any form of composite feed, chemicals or supplementary feeding,” Graham says. “If we can’t do it from what we’ve got here on the farm, then it doesn’t work. That’s why we keep the Devons because they work within our ethical, holistic system, for the improvement of the land.”

Age is a hugely important factor in producing the best tasting beef, he adds, with the cattle here given as long as possible to mature. “Out of respect, we will push it as far as we can. The older the cow, if kept well, the better the quality of meat. If we have an opportunity to retire cows here for other Red Ruby Devon farmers, we will do so. Instead of sending the cow to the abattoir, I’ll offer the top price and give her another six months to a year of life. We’d like to grow that side of the business as it’s definitely a nice thing to do. They’ve given such a long service to the farm they’ve come from that they deserve to have some extra time to relax.”

Graham continues: “We need to put the sacredness and spirituality back into eating meat, something which is really missing in western culture. Meat is a commodity, but everyone should appreciate the added dimension of ‘this is a beautiful creature that’s had a life’. Our customers already identify with that and we’d definitely like to push it more.”



Beef charcuterie hanging in the chiller at Hayes Meadow
Beef charcuterie hanging in the chiller at Hayes Meadow

Graham and Jocelyn pride themselves on their comprehensive and constantly developing range of products, with a tour of the processing facilities yielding everything from beef bresaola and chorizo ​​to pork coppa, diced heart and kidney, bone broth and super thin Japanese style beef cuts, sukiyaki and shabu-shabu.

As Graham explains, many of his best-selling items are classified as offal, which would otherwise have gone to waste. “Offal is our most precious commodity. It’s the thing we sell out of. I hear all the time from farmers ‘what do we do with the liver?’ Please, that is our top seller. Customers will buy 15-20 packs at a time because they eat it for medicinal purposes.”

Another by-product that Graham and Jocelyn have successfully diverted from the incinerator is tallow, with this rendered beef fat acting as the vital ingredient for an innovative range of handmade, paraffin-free lip balms, skin creams and cold-pressed soaps.

Blended with complimentary oils from jojoba to hemp and loaded with natural vitamins, as well as the farm’s own beeswax which is added to the lip balms and soaps, their organic tallow skincare is proving immensely popular with customers nationwide as a deep moisturizer and natural relief for skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis. “It shares so many properties with our skin,” Graham says. “It’s skin food.

“Our skin is made up of fat and it’s the largest organ in our body. When you have a dry skin condition or any form of damage to your skin, it’s the waxy ester layers and molecular structures – our defenses – that are degraded. So in order to repair and replenish it, you need to apply fat which is going to sink in and shares the same molecular structure.

“A lot of people use paraffin products like Vaseline. It does work, but it’s more of a sticky plaster and doesn’t get right down into the skin like tallow.”

Graham believes that tallow-based skincare such as theirs could be a big part of the solution to what he describes as a “dry skin crisis”, with one in five children and one in ten adults in the UK suffering from eczema according to the National Eczema Society.



A selection of tallow hair, face and body soaps produced by Hayes Meadow
A selection of tallow hair, face and body soaps produced by Hayes Meadow

He says: “Cases of conditions such as eczema and psoriasis are growing and growing. You see it so much more than you used to and I think it’s to do with the applications that people are using on their skin and the way they’re washing. All those shower gels are just stripping their skin of natural oils and giving it no time to replenish. Skin scrubs are terrible, you’re literally rubbing off your protective layers.”

Unprecedented demand has meant Graham and Jocelyn have hopelessly outgrown their existing processing facility and building work is now underway to install a new bespoke unit, made from upcycled shipping containers, by the autumn – ready to accelerate production early next year.

“Given the amount of time we’re spending making products and the range that we have created, we need to industrialize it a bit more and experiment with speeding up the process. Now’s the time to take that on so we can also employ people because we really want to see the skincare and soaps grow.

“We’re having an impact on suet fat not going to waste,” he says. “It’s coming to us and we’re adding huge value to it, as well as improving people’s health and raising farmers’ awareness of what you can do with beef cattle.

“While the meat is wonderful, it is limited to the amount of stock you can have on the farm. But the tallow has a long way to go. The feedback is astonishing and it fills us with a lot of enthusiasm.”

As part of their expansion plans, Graham and Jocelyn are taking the steps needed for their skincare range to successfully enter the European market, opening up significant export opportunities for these non-perishable products. “Now that we’re investing in our own bespoke plant, we might as well really try to push the business and grow as much as we can,” Graham says.



Soothing tallow skin cream
Soothing tallow skin cream

Graham also acknowledges that the couple would not have been able to achieve their business goals without financial support from the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) and Diverse Regeneration (DR) Company, the latter being based in Okehampton and helping with Hayes Meadow’s successful application for Greater Dartmoor Local Enterprise Action Fund (DG LEAF) funding.

Reflecting on the five years that have passed since taking over the running of Hayes Meadow, Graham and Jocelyn are in absolutely no doubt that without their innovations – most notably the decision to focus on nose to tail eating – there would be little prospect of a long – term future for the family farm.

On the environmental side of the coin, extensive tree planting and a water vole reintroduction program are just two of the many projects which will surely help to make this tucked-away corner of Devon an even better place.

Graham concludes: “We wouldn’t have a future. It was a loss-making business and the only way to make it work is to absolutely maximize the revenue of each cow. Other beef producers are doing it with their own butcheries and attending the farmers’ markets but for us, because we’re quite small, we need to go that extra mile.

“Going forward, it’s very exciting. Now that we have our own range of products and that one-on-one connection with the customers it’s so much more pleasurable to farm, having personal involvement and responsibility for what you do.”

For more details, please visit the websites www.hayesmeadow.com and www.tallowskincare.co.uk or follow Hayes Meadow on Facebook and Instagram.

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