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Shunning the herd mentality

When Jan McCourt fell victim to staff trimming at Dresdner Kleinwort Benson this summer, his first reaction was to look for another City job. He then had a change of heart, and left his 14-year career in finance, to run a small farm in the heart of England. He specializes in providing naturally reared meats, with the motto: "You may not be interested in the life history of a piece of meat on your plate. Well you should be!"

"I first got into the business of farming 11 years ago," says the former syndicate head, who started at Nomura and also worked at Daiwa and UBS before his two-and-a-half-year stint at Kleinwort. "I started by keeping horses, and then six years ago got some cattle in to keep the grass trimmed. But I only really saw it as a part of my pension fund back then, not a full-time job."

He now has over 100 Dexter cattle, an ancient Irish breed half the size of modern commercial beef, and expects to get more. And there's no need to worry about health scares as it's one of the very few breeds of cattle never to have contracted BSE.

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