In 2001 The Duke of Edinburgh came up with the idea of selling high quality goods from the Royal Estates and other small local suppliers. Its aim was to support the smaller businesses in the area whilst providing the customers with the best quality products that Britain has to offer. The shop opened its doors to the public on 11th November 2001 and since then has been growing in strength and size.
The Royal Farm
The Royal Estate at Windsor operates as a mixed farm. This includes 200 pedigree Jersey milking cows, a pedigree Sussex beef herd, 140 breeding sows, 1500 Lohmann Brown hens, 1000 acres of arable land and 2000 acres of grassland mainly used to feed the livestock.
The Jersey herd is based at Prince Consort Farm in The Home Park. The original farm was designed by Prince Albert in the late 1850s. The buildings have been extended with new winter housing for the cows including a modern milking system. This uses robotics which allow the cows freedom to chose when to be milked.
The milk is currently sold to produce the Windsor Castle ice cream which is available in The Farm Shop.
The pedigree Sussex beef herd has just over 200 cows. This native British breed is based in the Windsor Great Park and the cows and their calves spend much of the year grazing the parkland grass. When the ground becomes too wet in the winter, the cows are housed in straw yards. Their calves are naturally weaned at 10 months old. These calves are then allowed to mature into fully grown cattle which can take up to 2 years from weaning. These prime fattened cattle are sold in The Farm Shop every week.
The herd of Classic sows which are a cross breed of Landrace and Large White, are served by a Duroc cross Pietrain boar. The resulting offspring are reared in straw yards and are suitable for a range of different pork products including bacon, hams, pork and sausages. Some of the sows and piglets are reared outdoors but due to the wet winters, the pigs also have access to straw pens indoors.
The ewes all lamb at Bagshot Park, but you will often see the lambs grazing the hay meadows in Windsor Great Park during the autumn and winter. The ewes are mainly Scottish Mules crossed with Texel rams. The resulting offspring have a very good conformation and are very popular with the customers at The Farm Shop.
Three free range chicken houses are based in The Great Park. The eggs from the Lohmann Brown hens are collected daily and boxed for the Farm Shop. The Lohmann Brown is a hybrid and most have a caramel/brown shade of feathers, with white feathers in a pattern round their necks, and white feathers at the tips of their tail feathers. They are very friendly, and are good chickens to keep.