It’s a grass diet for Devon’s High Sheriff

Grania Phillips, Devon’s next High Sheriff, popped in for a chat ahead of our launch event for Devon County Show being held here in April at the start of Great British Beef Week. Grania has been raising Ruby Red Devon cattle at Colleton in North Devon for nigh on 20 years. What else were we going to talk about?

We hear you have a bit of a beef with beef?
It’s a shame that most people today don’t know what native grass-fed beef tastes like. Compared with what you get in supermarkets, it’s something altogether different.

Better beef’s a lot more expensive though …
Actually it’s not. We have done our research and can assure you that buying a box of beef from us is significantly cheaper than buying the same volume of meat from the supermarket.

Aren’t people becoming more interested in their food’s provenance?
Most of us still tend to buy what’s most convenient and even here where farming is all around us, it’s incredible how detached people have become from where food comes from. This is why the Devon County Show matters of course.

As Sheriff are you going to be gunning for a better hearing for grass-fed beef?
That would certainly be good, but no particular plans to tell you yet.

Have you always been so passionate about cattle?
Actually, the grass came first. When we bought the farm, it was all sheep and some arable. Our soil is clay based so you get good grass which led us to 100 per cent grass fed cattle: that means they’re grazing the fields in summer and being fed silage (fermented grass) in the winter months. And they had to be natives because continental breeds cannot finish on grass, they need grain. But you’re right, I am passionate about my Devons.

And why choose Red Devons specifically?
Devons have a beautiful nature, they’re unaggressive and calm. They’ll walk up to have their backs scratched, particularly the bulls. This inherent calmness makes for the tenderest meat. Also, combined with their medium size, their calmness makes them kind to pasture, as they don’t run around and poach the ground. Did you know that they’re also great conservation grazers?

A favourite beef recipe?
I love doing a slow roast of brisket. Pop it in the Aga in the morning with some veggies and cider or wine, and in the evening it’s so tender it’s like ‘pulled’ beef. Our son, Dominic, has a great recipe slow roast brisket which involves a spicy marinade.

You scratch my back ..


Grania Phillips is sworn in as High Sheriff of Devon on 5 April.
• Buy direct from Colleton Beef at
• Devon County Show, supported by Southernhay House, is on 17, 18 and 19 May in Exeter.