We raise Registered Bluefaced Leicesters, Registered Border Leicesters, and their crosses. Our hardy Border Leicester flock births their lambs in January an grow rapidly for early spring lamb finished on grass. Our Bluefaced Leicesters are slightly more delicate, so they lamb in May for late season lambs that maintain condition even as the pasture fades.
People often wonder how sheep are raised. I’ve encountered many people who don’t realize that “lamb” doesn’t come from newborn sheep, for instance, or how shearing works. I once had someone try to convince me that most lambs were raised in crates like crate-veal! Not true at all.
Here is an overview of the lives of meat lambs on our farm:
- Pregnant ewes live in an open greenhouse-like building filled with natural light, but protected from wind and weather.
- We monitor the ewes using remote cameras. Sheep instinctively hide labor from predators and humans, but observing them via remote camera doesn’t disturb or alarm them.
- When the lambs are close, we remain close by to assist. Katie has hundreds births under her belt and plenty of experience judging what kind of aid to provide to new mothers.
- New mothers are confined to private pens with their lambs until the lambs are nursing steadily and the maternal bond is strong.
- Young lambs are closely watched as they grow. They are out on grass as soon as the sward is ready for them.
- Lambs grow up grazing with their mothers. They are weaned at 3 months of age as gently as possible- the lambs are left on familiar ground while the ewes are led to new pastures.
- The lambs weight is evaluated while they grow. Slaughter starts with humane stunning, rendering the animal senseless and brain-dead. The carcass is bled, skinned and left to age for one week before primal cuts become the chops, roasts, stew and sausage we all enjoy.