Trying Times

RUGBY league player Eddie Battye has spoken fondly of his time as a young farmer in Yorkshire.

Eddie is a prop with the London Broncos, the team that hit the headlines earlier this month when they won the final Super League spot for next season by beating favourites Toronto Wolfpack in the razzmatazz-filled Million Pound Game.


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While most of his teammates are enjoying a well-earned holiday after the Canadian clash, Eddie is back at home helping out on his family’s buffalo farm at Oxspring, near Barnsley.

“I was at a farmers’ market the other day selling the buffalo meat,” said 27 year-old Eddie, who was a keen member of Cawthorne Young Farmers’ Club before moving to London to pursue his professional rugby dream.

“I put my hand up for everything – panto, entertainments, rallies, tug of war – and strongly recommend others do the same. I learnt all sorts of skills like team building and made friends for life. Although I came from a farming background it doesn’t matter if you don’t.”

Eddie also spoke of his sadness at the controversial cancelling of the National Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs’ annual AGM.

“I’ve been to a fair few in my time and it’s so good for young people – who often lead quite isolated lives working in the countryside – to get together and meet other members from all over the country. Young farmers have had a bad press recently and I really hope they get it all sorted soon. They do a lot of good work for charity and need to be back concentrating on all the positives.”

Yorkshire YFC has been at the forefront of calls for a motion of no confidence in the national board of management for the way it handled the AGM cancellation; with members finding out second-hand from social media. The motion will be made at a national meeting in Warwickshire on Sunday (Oct 21st).

Eddie moved to London three years ago with the dream of the Broncos getting into the superleague, so the Million Pound Game victory is the start of an exciting new era he’d been working towards for a long time.

“I always knew we could win,” said Eddie of the 4-2 victory. “But we were the underdogs, had the travelling and didn’t have the support of a home crowd. Looking back though, this was probably a blessing in the long run; been the underdogs meant there was no pressure on us.”

Eddie, who started his career with the Sheffield Eagles and is a huge Sheffield Wednesday fan, has had no opportunity to get lonely in the capital as he house shares with fellow players James Cunningham and Ben Hellewell. His parents, Steven and Cath Battye, quit dairy farming after becoming disillusioned by plummeting milk prices and soaring feed costs. Back in 2009 they bought 15 domestic Asian water buffalo from a farmer in Wales, after reading an article about how easy they were to keep and the high quality of the meat. Snowden Hill Water Buffalo was born, and the couple haven’t looked back. They now have more than 100 of the animals at Tenter House Farm, just outside the village of Oxspring, close to Barnsley. Eddie’s brother Robert, himself a keen former young farmer and still involved in tug-of-war, is involved in the farm. Eddie’s mum, Cath, is very well known to many young farmers in Yorkshire as she used to help at the organisation’s Knaresborough-based headquarters.

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Buffalo Bits

  • People presume buffalo meat will be tougher than beef, but in fact it has a softer texture and a sweeter taste
  • Buffalo meat is very lean, high in protein but very low in cholesterol and saturated fats.
  • Water buffalo have been domesticated for more than 5,000 years in India and south-east Asia
  • Water buffalo should not be confused with North American bison – sometimes called buffalo – which are closer to wild animals, or with the volatile African Cape buffalo
  • Wild water buffalo, from which domesticated water buffalo are descended, are now an endangered animal, with only 4,000 surviving in isolated pockets of Asia
  • Water buffalo have far fewer sweat glands than cows and use their horns to regulate temperature
  • Water buffalo are amazingly hardy and low-maintenance animal, thriving on grass and silage without the need for additional concentrates, antibiotics or growth-promoting hormones
  • They are unaffected by many diseases common to cows, and no cases of BSE have been recorded
  • Wild buffalo milk is naturally smooth and creamy and makes wonderful mozzarella cheese, ice cream, milkshakes and yogurt

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