Frequently Asked Questions
Do you eat the lamb you produce?
You state "no additives fed, no antibiotics fed." Do you administer any growth hormones or antibiotics?
Let's start with growth hormones - we do not administer any growth hormones to our sheep; in fact, we've never used these on our farm.
We do not feed antibiotics to our sheep either. But, as good shepherds, we pay attention to the health of our animals and work closely with our veterinarian as to the appropriate action to take in a health emergency. For example: if a sheep gets sick with mastitis, we would treat it with the appropriate dose of penicillin, as you would with any new mother - people included! Pneumonia is another example of this. It would be cruel to let an animal suffer when you had the means to prevent it.
Are your sheep "grass-fed"?
They sure are!! We like to say our sheep are pastured. They eat grass while they are out in the pasture. But in the winter, after the sheep and lambs browse the pastures, we feed them lots of hay.
Could you feed them only hay (dried grass) in the winter?
Yes, but the nutritional value of grass and hay are different, just as your vegetables have a different nutritional value depending on how they are prepared. We need to make sure the sheep get the appropriate amount of protein and other essential nutrients, and we choose to do this with grain.
Flavor is also something that is important to us and to our customers. A sheep's diet makes a big difference in how the meat tastes. Meat from animals that were only grass-fed can tend to taste "gamey," and that's the biggest reason people give for not liking lamb! But our lamb is flavorful and tender. Think about venison for a comparison. A deer eats only what it can find.
Another reason for feeding grain is to enable our lambs to grow to provide large rib and loin chops. Lambs that are only grass-fed will not have a large loin eye or rib eye unless they are older. Meat from older lambs has a more mature flavor. Our lambs are rarely more than 7-9 months old when processed and our Chefs tell us how excited they are about the amount of marbling in the muscle.
Are you organic?
This question always reminds me of a friend who answers "of course. I'm a carbon-based life form." But that's not really what "organic" has come to mean now, has it?
The short answer you're looking for is no. But let us tell you why.
There are a few reasons - for instance, U.S. organic standards prohibit the use of antibiotics in a medically necessary situation, and we believe it is inhumane to let one of our animals suffer when we have the capability to cure the situation under the advice of our veterinarian.
Organic feed is very expensive, but more importantly, it is very hard to come by. There is not enough production of certified organic feed (hay and grain) in the area for us to purchase and sustain our flock on this alone.
The most important reason is that the philosophy by which we live and raise our sheep is a mindset, deeper rooted than a government label that takes a lot of time and money to acquire. It won't change the way we farm!
You have a small farm. What's "small"?
Our farm is three acres. Yes, three! When Erin was studying agriculture on a McCloy Fellowship, the European farmers she visited thought this was amusing. That's right - Europe, where most folks pride themselves on being small farmers!
There is plenty of work on our small farm for all five of us. We want to make sure we're doing the best job we can with what we have before we get any bigger.