Management intensive grazing

The Passion behind ‘Farmer Angus’

Angus McIntosh – the previous London-based finance professional turned livestock farmer. Not a ‘gewone’ farmer, but a razor sharp and enthusiastic farmer that has steadfastly plotted his course against the grain of convention. For those of you that don’t know, Angus is the man behind Spier’s pasture-raised livestock and the ‘Farmer Angus’ name.  

Eddie Vienings and I met with Angus in February this year to find out about Spier’s sale of carbon credits on the South African registry, Credible Carbon. With Blue North’s involvement in the Confronting Climate Change (CCC) Initiative, the sale of carbon credits through measuring the impacts of changes in agri management practices was of obvious interest. Through ‘Management Intensive Grazing’ (the frequent and managed movement of dense livestock groups, mimicking the natural movement of plains animals), Angus has effectively sequestered over 8,000 tonnes of CO2 in his soils. With changes in soil carbon measured before and after through an accredited laboratory, and then audited, Angus has created an additional revenue stream.

Further, the necessary condition for a carbon credit sale through Credible Carbon is that 50% of the revenue generated is returned to the farm labour. What’s good for the farm’s bottom-line and the resources on which it depends, also provides positive returns to its people.

This then led to an enthusiastic discussion on ‘stacking’ – the simultaneous generation of multiple revenue streams from the same piece of land. From his pasturelands, Angus is able to generate an amazing six different revenue streams simultaneously: beef ; lamb; pigs; broiler chickens; eggs; and now revenue through the sale of carbon credits.

But upon meeting Angus, what struck Eddie and I most was his intense passion and enthusiasm. Hailing from a conventional livestock farm in KwaZulu-Natal, Angus was initially inspired to do things differently by Michael Pollan’s book, ‘The Omnivores Dilemma[1]. In one section, Pollan presents Joel Salatins’ (of Polyface Farms) hugely successful multi-species livestock farm in Virginia, US, in which its produce is exclusively sold to local buyers. Angus has clearly built on this inspiration through his own thought and experimentation at Spier. He speaks with a deep conviction – he is acutely aware of the atrocities of industrial agri production, particularly livestock, but the state of his land, soil and livestock is evidence of a better alternative.

For us at Blue North, it is incredibly positive to engage with farmers that are successfully challenging convention, but especially those that do so passionately. More than anything, it provides reassurance that we are on the right path!

For more on Farmer Angus, have a look at his blog HERE.


[1] Michael Pollan’s book ‘The Omnivore’s Dilemma’ comes highly recommended!