Well here it is, my first official blog and what better place to start than introducing myself and explaining my theories and motivations behind Wunderbar Lamb.
I am a twenty nine year old farmer, youngest of four children and I have three older sisters. I am married with three children aged four, two and one. My wife Kerry is a full time stay at home mother but used to work as an agronomist. My eldest is my beautiful daughter Emmison followed by the two boys Archer and Fred. We live on the family farm at Black Springs and I work the farm with my father Ken not only running sheep but cropping wheat, barley, canola, export hay and beans. My father Ken and mother Julie also live on the farm in another house on the southern end of our property.
So that’s me in a nut shell, now onto Wunderbar. I am not the first person in Australia to run shedding sheep, nor am I the first to leave the tails on the animals. I am however the first to seek out and obtain Humane Choice accreditation, which absolutely astonishes me! Shedding sheep are the perfect breeds to obtain this certification, due to their hardiness, superior tasting meat and their ability to lose their wool. By losing their wool, there is absolutely no need to remove their tail. The only reason farmers are still removing the tails of shedding sheep is predominantly an appearance thing. We are so used to seeing wooly sheep without tails these days anything that appears different from the norm often attracts a negative reaction. By a negative reaction I mean an unwillingness to be associated with by some stock agents, a lower price being paid at the market and a general misconception of inferior quality, when nothing could be further from the truth. It is quite the opposite in my belief. I know personally I’ve been laughed at and ridiculed for going down the path of shedding sheep, generally by ignorant farmers who find it impossible to think outside the square they’ve been bought up in. Well I believe there is more than one way to produce top quality lamb in this country and the alternative has been here for decades. Often considered to be the poor relation of the Merino, Poll Dorset and White Suffolk, magnificent breeds such as the Wiltshire Horn, Wiltipoll, Dorper, Meatmaster and Australian White will have their day in the sun when their potential is finally realized by the greater public. It is my missions to raise the profile of these fantastic breeds and let the quality of their meat speak for its self. For years farmers that have run shedding sheep have had to put up with a discount for their product when in reality they should be attracting a premium. When people realize we don’t have to shear, crutch, tail or most importantly mules our sheep, the demand will grow. We have to educate people about the amazing benefits of these wonderful sheep and once we do it is going to appeal to a great number of them.
I’ve been told shedding sheep make up less than five percent of Australia’s national flock, so the potential for farmers that run these breeds is astonishing if you think about it, appealing to a niche market that will never get flooded.
There is a lot being made of the poor treatment of sheep in the press lately and the beauty of shedding sheep is that they can truly be treated ethically and humanly because the interaction required with humans is drastically reduced. A lot of the trouble starts when you have to shear the sheep, so how can you guarantee to stop these incidents from happening? Don’t shear them. Simple.
I am not against the wool industry one bit; I believe it is an amazing renewable fiber that has carried our country on its back in the past and could do again in the future. In fact, I believe the shedding sheep lamb trade could make the wool industry in Australia stronger. If you think about it, if more of the poorer quality wool producers whose main focus is on lamb production swing over to the “dark side”, it will leave only the passionate wool producers left producing a high quality product. The market won’t get flooded with the poorer quality wool, leaving only finer quality wools for buyers to choose from resulting in more competition and higher prices as a result. Just a crazy thought.
To end my first blog I would just like to reiterate that I am not anti-wool, I am not against the traditional cross bred for prime lamb production, nor am I against the way majority of farmers in this country care for their livestock. It has always been in the farmers’ best interest to take as greater care of his or her livestock as possible in order to receive the best returns.
Humane Choice is exactly that; a choice. I am giving people a choice they have never had before. If it tastes good and the message resonates and people appreciate the philosophy behind Humane Choice lamb, they will buy it.