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These Fascinating Meat-Sheep Are New Additions To Our Farm

Posted by: Trevor

March 12, 2015

Grass-fed beef isn't the only red-meat that contains super-abundant quantities of healthy nutrients. Grass-fed lamb ranks just as high, but is relatively under-consumed in Canada and the United States. A hundred years ago, lamb consumption was considerably higher. But as farms consolidated into massive agribusinesses where short-term profits were the main consideration, meat consumption shifted away from red-meat as chicken-demand soared.

Although we enjoy eating chicken, the nutritional and fatty-acid profile of grass-fed beef and lamb is much different, primarily because cows and sheep are ruminants and specialize in converting green, living plants into meat, fat and bone. We decided to add sheep to our farm because we believe they are an excellent source of healthy red-meat. And because we're a mountain farm, adding sheep to our pasture rotation works well because they are adapted to hillside foraging.

Because we are focused on meat production rather than wool, we chose a breed which doesn't need shearing. They are hair-sheep. Several breeds exist, one being the Barbados Black-Belly. These creatures are small, look like goats, and thrive without much assistance. Watch the video as these adorable animals interact with the cows and enjoy the sunshine.

One of the amazing things about ruminants is their ability to convert grass into tissue. Unlike pigs or chickens, ruminants have multiple compartments in their stomach which allow them to eat, store, and digest large quantities of grass. Neither pigs nor chickens are designed this way. The nutrients in the grass are absorbed and stored in the fat, bone, organs and muscle tissue of the cow or sheep. The nutrients are condensed, and passed along to humans when we eat their meat or milk. In other words the ruminant harvests the nutrients and condenses them in a way that humans can't, allowing us to obtain the benefits of the plants indirectly. This is why vegans take special care to supplement with certain nutrients and trace minerals, because it is difficult for humans to get adequate nutrition on a strictly vegan diet.

When we eat the meat, bone, fat and organs of a grass-fed cow or lamb we are accessing a higher level of nutrition than we could ever get from conventional CAFO meat. But when we limit our ruminant consumption to just one species (ex. beef) then we are limiting our nutrition to the strengths and weaknesses of that particular type of animal. Although sheep and cows are both ruminants, their grazing/foraging patterns and preferred plant species are not identical. This results in different nutritional profiles in their tissue, especially their fat. Neither is better, just different, and they are complementary.

Sheep for example will more readily eat plants which are closer to the ground, whereas cattle prefer taller grasses. Therefore sheep can utilize plants that cattle can't or won't eat. By running both species together, the sheep and cattle complement each other because the cattle take the taller plants down allowing the sheep better access to the shorter regrowth which they prefer. This is more closely aligned with natural ruminant behavior such as on plains where larger ruminants are followed by smaller ruminants.

We look forward to offering you, our friends and customers, grass-fed lamb, which we believe will be a delicious and healthy addition to your diet.

Grass-fed lamb is now part of our farm. These Barbados Black-Belly sheep are complementary to our cows.
Grass-fed lamb is now part of our farm. These Barbados Black-Belly sheep are complementary to our cows.

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