Two Shakes of a Lamb's Tail

Farming is a hard business and there’s not much worse than low and unsteady prices.  To help supplement & stabilize their finances, some farms have diversified their operations into more than just one or two crops or species.  This is the case with Northfield Farm and Sondes Place.  Inside of the on-farm shop at Northfield Farm, you can find cuts of lamb right alongside their beef offerings that were raised on their farm.  At Sondes Place, the cattle are neighbored by around 300 Highlander ewes.  They have also developed an asparagus field, local school programs, a firewood enterprise, & environmentalism and stewardship schemes.

Whether in the pasture or the display case, beef and lamb at Northfield Farm can be found right alongside each other.  Their beef animals graze in the same paddock as their near 100 breeding ewes with lambs.  This flock contains genetics from a range of breeds including the local Border Leicester as well Scotch Halfbreds, Cheviots, Hampshire Downs, & Llanwenog to produce top quality lamb, hogget, and mutton.  Currently, all lambs are sent to a neighboring abattoir which can be seen from the farmyard so that the sheep have to travel the shortest distance possible from farm to fridge.  To aid with movement of the stock, Northfield Farm also employs the use of multiple herding dogs which focus on using strategic vocalizations to influence the animals rather than other more physical forms.  Northfield Farm also has expanded into selling at Borough market to further their consumer relations.  

At Sondes Place, their ewes lamb from mid-March onwards. During lambing the ewes are housed in a barn about 2 weeks before they start lambing and are turned out to grass once the lambs are 3-5 days old and strong enough to cope with any changing weather.  The Highlander breed is from New Zealand and are bred specifically to consistently produce twins and to have strong feet reducing incidents of lameness.  They operate a closed herd meaning that they raise their own replacement ewes from birth and do not bring in outside sheep to minimize the introduction of new or different diseases.  This also means that their newest ewes will already be familiar with the site, farmer, and neighbors.   With using more terminally oriented rams on their ewes, such as Texel’s, the offspring have a good conformation for meat and are relatively lean.  Sondes Place Farm does not use any concentrates to finish out their lambs which can take from four to 9 months.

Words of the Day:
Tup – Ram or Buck
Gimmer – A ewe that has not yet lambed, typically between its first and second shearing

-The Scrummy Sheep


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