A NEW venture which claims to source and sell Britain’s "most sustainable and ethical" meat has been launched in Cumbria.

Online meat broker For Heaven’s Stake is employing a technique known as "crowd-funding" to find customers for the county's "most inspirational" farmers.

Customers access an online auction room via the company's website where they can pledge to buy all or part of an animal.

“We are cutting out the middleman and can keep margins low because we don’t have to run premises or use a wholesaler,” said co-founder Caroline Watson, who runs the business with her partner Stephen Grindrod.

They are now looking for farmers who "operate sustainably, with the welfare of animals foremost ". In the case of sheep and cattle, they should be 100 per cent grass fed animals.

Ms Watson claimed customers had become concerned about the widespread use of the terms like “local” or ‘’outdoor reared’’.

“A farmer can be ‘organic’ and yet feed animals grain that has been shipped from the other side of the world, and may still use some medicines on a regular basis,” she said. “We want to offer really detailed information on each farm or method so customers can make an educated choice about the priorities closest to their heart.”

Farmer Neil Heseltine, of Hill Top Farm, Malham, is offering meat from his belted Galloways through the website.

“The beef these animal produce is exceptional, due to their diet consisting only of natural herb rich plant matter," he said. "The animals are getting all the minerals and vitamins they need for supreme health in their diet and therefore need no medical intervention. It’s arguably the most nutritious meat you can buy.”

To sell one of Neil’s cattle, Ms Watson will put information and video footage on the website, and then launch a crowd-funding campaign to attract customers to buy all or part of the animal. When it is all pledged, Mr Heseltine will take the cow to the abattoir and the portions will be butchered, packed and dispatched.

“We are campaigners and educators,” said Ms Watson, who spent 10 years farming cattle and Herdwick sheep on a Lakeland fell farm. “By working with like-minded farmers, we get the pleasure of helping them sell their sustainable, high welfare, nutritious meat and working with equally passionate, aware consumers who fully appreciate the value of the produce we are offering.”

For more information visit http://www.forheavenstake.com/