A cut above the rest

QUALITY definitely trumps quantity when it comes to Seskinore butcher Roger Latimer’s approach to business. Formed in 2007, his company Seskinore Farm Meats have over the past five years set about establishing a reputation for delivering traditionally matured and succulent cuts of meat for their growing base of loyal customers.

Employing two staff in the village, the business splits its time between offering high quality locally sourced meat from the farm shop on the Fintona Road and offering a butchery service for farmers wanting to use their own lamb, pork and beef.

While the proprietor wasn’t originally raised on a farm, he was never a stranger to the carving knife or fine cuts of meat courtesy of his father Dick Latimer.

Well known among the farming fraternity, the former Department of Agriculture employee graded meat by day and cut beef animals for local farmers in his spare time.

At the age of 11, Roger got his first real taste of farming when the family acquired a small farm in Seskinore, fuelling his love for the art of farming.

He would go on to attend Enniskillen Agricultural College and work in the USA and England for a period, before returning to Seskinore in 1995 to run a butcher’s shop for five years.

While he would quit the shop in 2000 and spend the next seven years in the employ of the Livestock Meat Commission, butchering always remained in the background for Roger.

By 2007, the Seskinore man would adopt the name of his home village to make butchering his full-time source of income once more. “I always cut meat in the background in the evening time almost as a hobby,” he recalls. “One door closes and another one opens. The day job was taking up too much time, so one had to go and the other one took over.”

Roger’s successful approach in the past five years is largely down to the wide network of contacts he has established in the local farming community. “We cut for a lot of farmers, using their own animals and that’s how we get a lot of our beef,” he says.

The butcher reveals that the grassroots approach makes his company privy to the best quality beef on the local market. “It is a good set-up, they’re giving me business and I’m giving them business. It has been a great way of getting good beef, lamb and pork.”

While the company operates from the farm shop in Seskinore, the business has been able to further tap into the farming community and beyond through weekly farmers’ markets across Omagh, Enniskillen and Strabane. “It works well. The overheads are low but it’s hard work and can be unpredictable at times,” he says.


While other butchers may buy in cuts of meat by the box, Seskinore Farm Meats’ approach is to acquire the whole animal. “We don’t buy any ‘back packing’. Unless it comes on the bone to us, we don’t want it. It does mean that in a full animal you only have two loins and two fillets. At times we’re are going to be short of stuff, but it’s better to be short of stuff than to have bad quality,” he says.

“Quality is our key, we are trying to be consistent every week. If someone gets a roast off us, they know it’s going to be as good as the last roast.” One of the butcher’s unique selling points has been to hang beef for four weeks. “I always say, if you want good beef, don’t be in a hurry,” affirms Roger. “It matures it, giving it a nice deep rich succulent flavour. You just can’t beat it.”

Another of the company’s more unique approaches of late has been the foray into game meats, including venison and rabbit. Roger even reveals that he has acquired his own licence for deer ‘stalking’.

“We have established a deer group to try and help farmers manage deer. Rather than the farmer seeing them as a problem, we help them see deer as an asset.”

He discloses that the rabbit meat has proved a popular talking point at local markets. “There is a clientele there who have grown up with rabbit and haven’t had it maybe for 20 years and want their children to try it.” With firm plans to expand the business, Roger has labelled the application process for grant support as “a minefield”. “We have had to walk away, because it got that complicated and we are at the ideal stage to go further and take on more staff,” he reveals.

“But we’re going to keep doing what we’re doing. We’ll expand the venison. I would really like to see more use made of venison. I would also like to produce naturally smoked products.”

However the butcher confirms that whatever his plans, quality will always be placed above quantity. “I would like to raise the quality even more. I want to be niche rather than mass production. “We want to make it as best as we can,” he adds. “It may not be the best business approach, but the beef comes before money. It has worked for us so far.”

For more information, visit www.seskinorefarmmeats.com

Source: ulsterherald.com