You would have thought that since I produce the finest quality mutton and lamb that I would be pretty familiar with the above rule of thumb. You would have thought…
Archive for Welfare Standards
All this snow is affecting our production. With the best will in the world feeding species rich hay is not enough to fatten sheep in snow conditions.
As a result we haven’t been able to take any to slaughter for a while now.
I could take them leaner – but that would impact quality of the meat (less fat is not good).
I could feed them concentrate feed to fatten them – but then they wouldn’t taste as good.
Looks like I’ll have to wait and do a bit more selling in the spring.
Who brought up this whole food integrity thing anyway?
With all the sheep in the barns it reminds me that lambing is soon upon us.
When feeding the sheep there is no better sight than a row of bodies happily feeding – sheep always look happy when feeding.
When it’s cold outside – and it has been really cold – the extra warmth of the sheep in the barns makes them feel cosy and secure. Watching all your prize ewes sitting comfortably on a fresh warm bed of straw, with a full belly and chewing their cud has a hypnotic and comforting feeling to it.
When things have been busy with lambing and you’re still in the barn in the early hours the lambing sheds seem quite serrene (until the next one starts lambing). I sometimes just sit on the straw and take it all in, picking up the contented vibes from all the contented sheep (and I have been known to fall asleep).
My grandfather didn’t believe stress existed – “all in the mind” – he used to say. But if it does I think an hour in the barn at lambing time would be better value than any “proffesional” help I can think of.
After reading this story in the Telegraph I’m really heartened.
Thank goodness we still have people in our school system like this head mistress.
Thank goodness the children at this school had more sense than the wonky do-gooders with misguided intentions who were out to make a point, regardless of the consequences to the education of the children.
In my humble opinion anyone who eats meat who is not willing to be party to its death is a hypocrite and a coward.
Well done Kids.
When we moved from being a commercial farm that looked after the wildlife on the farm to a quality meat producer that based the whole business around managing and improving wildflower meadows and pastures, I’d like to say there was a big plan and that I knew all these positive feed-backs would materialise from the new system but to be honest we just kind of stumbled upon them.
I knew Rare hardy Breeds were ideal for less productive but flower rich pastures- but I also learned that the wildflowers contain properties that act as natural medicines – reducing my need to administer them.
I knew that Rare Breeds produced less but tasted better – but I soon learned that when they grazed wildflower pastures they took on the flavour of the orchids and wild herbs in the sward.
I soon found out that grass fed beef, lamb and mutton was nutritionally better for you but what surprised me was that corn fed or concentrate fed meat was actually harmful. Especially as I had been eating it for so long! I was then forwarded some research from a customer that had found that livestock fed on Wildflower meadows had an even better balance of essential fatty acids that just grass fed stock. More positive feed-backs.
Obviously we care about the environment and so we had been concerened about all the reports about the carbon footprint of meat so I looked into it. Common sense tells us that actually grass fed meat has to be carbon neutral. Which was another great positive feedback.
The upshot is that we have happier, healthier livestock, more marketing tools and a better and more popular product than I could ever have imagined. I can only think that having tried to start something positive there were going to be more positive outcomes than I could have foreseen.
I’ve put together this amateurish flow-chart to show the journey of discovery that we have taken. You’ll have to save the picture to enlarge it if you need to – I need some techie help otherwise.
I sometimes get a bit frustrated with average products being sold as “prime” or “finest” and with dishonest producers unwilling to back up their claims with explanations or information, or worse just lying. That can lead to negativity. So in the spirit of being positive here is a guide to help you find your way through the jungle of local food out there:
You are probably paying more for what you consider to be a prime product so you should get more too! If the information you are looking for is not readily available then you can always ask the farmer. If your enquiry is not important to them, you can always go elsewhere……
Essential Questions to ask the farmer and yourself:
- Are the animals raised AND fattened on natural food? “Natural food” should be the grass and natural herbs in the sward. If they have to feed concentrate food you are better off going to Tesco.
- Taste – Does it taste better – is the taste worth the extra cost? – Clearly the most important test.
- Nutrition – Does it provide adequate nutrition? This is related to the “Natural Food” one.
- Breed – Is it a native and TRADITIONAL or RARE breed of animal? Modern commercial livestock are bred to put on tasteless lean meat in high volume when fed concentrates. Less fat is less flavour and if they are commercial llivestock and fattened on corn then they will not have the right essential fatty acids and imbalance your nutrition.
- Does the product benefit the environment? Better if you can feel good about eating the food as well as enjoying the flavour.
- Are you confident that the animal welfare standards of the producer are up to scratch? Again, helps your peace of mind.
- Are you confident you can talk to and chat to the farmer about the product? One of the biggest selling points for these small businesses is that the farmer or family deliver the meat, answer the phone, pick up the emails etc. Do they see your enquiries as important?
- Is information about the product readily available – websites and leaflets. If the product is better does it tell you why?
It’s that simple! Happy shopping.