I've always loved sheep. All breeds, shapes, sizes and colors, hair sheep, wool sheep, black, brown and white sheep. Three years ago I convinced Chris to add sheep to our roatational grazing system here on the farm. The first year we raised only ten and it was relatively easy to keep them in the netting, move them about on the farm and herd them when they needed herding. We added twenty the following year and this year we raised fifty. With the fifty, we certainly encountered a few more escapees, more frequent moves and so forth, but the meat that these animals yield is worth the running around.
Lambs are indeed quite nice to look at, fluffy puffballs of cream colored wool (in this case) and amazingly efficient at mowing down a pasture. It is impressive that these creatures are not only satisfied with a green diet of grasses and forbs but that they finish out so well without grain.We've been using a five acre field full of rose bushes to graze the sheep. We move them every three to five days depending on the paddock size and the types of grasses and shrubs available to them. The leaves of the rose bushes are always the first to be devoured which has helped the fields tremendously.
Lamb is not a wildly popular meat in the U.S. Even here in New England where the landscape a hundred years ago looked a lot like James Herriot's Yorkshire stomping ground, we just don't consume a lot of it anymore.There are some speculations about why that is, but many believe that it is partly to due to the copious amounts of mutton served to the troops by the government during World War II. Some of these men upon coming home vowed never to eat lamb again. Some people like mutton for the stronger taste and dislike lamb for it's lack in depth of flavor. Well we've fallen in love with lamb and can't get enough of this sweet meat. It is amazing how some bad experiences can shape the way something is received even after so many years.
If you are unsure about eating a "baby" animal, come on over and look at the sheep that we have here at Walpole Valley Farms. They are sturdy, fat, covered in wool and definitely don't look cute and cuddly any longer. We feed our lambs on grass and grass alone so it takes longer for them to reach a reasonable slaughter weight. These lambs head to the butcher at about ten months so they look full grown and can make a lot of loud noises when they're hungry for fresh pasture.
SO if you haven't given lamb a chance due to it's bad rap or because you just can't handle eating a baby, try our grass-fed, mature but not mutton, lamb, you'll be glad you did!