About Us

Friendship Estates is a family-run farming and feed manufacturing business, based in Stubbs Walden, near Doncaster, at the southern tip of North Yorkshire.

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The company was established in 1935 by Frederick Cooke, the great-grandfather of the present managing director, Andrew Cooke. Andrew’s father John moved the business to Stubbs Walden in 1955 when he began farming. He was responsible for growing the business, and from 1972 was an early advocate of farm diversification. The aim was to add value to all products from the farm.

Image The long association with Mark Westaway & Son, from Paignton in Devon, began in 1982 when Friendship Estates began making the dust-free bagged forage Horsehage under licence and distributing it for sale in the north of England. Andrew Cooke joined the business in 1983 following a BSc degree in Agricultural Biochemistry, Physiology and Nutrition. Manufacture of Mollichaff began in 1984 and we now manufacture and sell the Horsehage and Mollichaff ranges throughout Northern England, Scotland and Wales.

Further diversification followed with the installation of two extruders in 1986 and 1988, enabling the extrusion of home-grown wheat into biscuits for dog and pet feed. In 1988, Friendship Estates developed Barley Plus, an extruded barley and linseed nugget for horses which was (and still is!) highly digestible.

Many year’s experience of growing and harvesting grass led to the development of our low temperature-dried grass product ReadiGrass in 1995 and the purchase of a bed grass dryer in 1996. ReadiGrass retains the vibrant colour and aroma of fresh grass and can be fed as a forage or as a molasses free chaff. The dried grass was then also packed into small 1kg bags as Friendly ReadiGrass for sale as food for rabbits and other small pets. Other pet products followed with Hutch Hemp bedding, Barley Straw Algae-inhibitors for ponds, and Friendly Natural Cat Litter, an environmentally-friendly, straw-based litter.

Following from the principle of adding value to produce from the farm, Friendship Estates has for many years sold a range of bagged, whole or rolled, barley, oats and wheat. The company also developed expertise in growing a wide range of herbs on the farm and drying them for use in both human and animal herbal products. Contacts made in connection with the herbs led, in 1993, to Friendship Estates starting to collect yew (Taxus) hedge clippings and drying them for sale into the pharmaceutical industry, for the manufacture of anti-cancer drugs for the treatment of breast and ovarian cancers. This collection has continued annually, purchasing clippings from properties all over Great Britain.

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We recycle as much waste as we can from the farm. Waste grass and straw is composted, alongside green waste from local councils and landscape gardeners, producing beneficial compost. This is applied to our fields as a soil improver and reduces the need for inorganic fertilisers.

The desire ‘to do what we do better’ led to Friendship Estates achieving two feed quality assurance schemes in 2004. The UFAS (Universal Feed Assurance Standard) for Compound Feeds which covers the chaff, extruded mixtures and straight cereals; and FEMAS (Feed Materials Assurance Scheme) covers the Horsehage products, dried Grass and Herbs, and straight extruded cereals.

Since 2010, most of our farmland has been farmed under Natural England’s Entry Level Stewardship environmental scheme. As part of the scheme we have changed the way in which we manage the farm with the aim of increasing food supplies and habitats for wildlife.