Long Horned Wiltshire sheep
Our sheep are a mixture of Merino and Merino cross ewes which we mate with pure bred Long Horned Wiltshire (LHW) rams. We do have a few pure bred LHW ewes too and we are slowly building up the numbers of these rarer sheep and eventually we would like a pure LHW herd.
For us these sheep are ideal for organic farming. They are a traditional English breed brought to Britain by the Romans as the original meat sheep. They are popular in Australia because they shed their wool and therefore, do not need shearing, crutching and have no major fly strike problems.
And unlike the other shedding meat sheep such as Dorpers, have wool rather than hair, so will not contaminate our wool from our other sheep.
We have found LHW sheep to be intelligent and more than capable of coping with extreme weather and they do well in poorer conditions maintaining their weight well in the summer. They are also excellent mothers and often have multiple births (Nancy our oldest LHW ewe had four lambs one year!)
For our cross breed sheep which do produce wool, being organic means we are not allowed to mules them (not that we would want to!) and employ a variety of methods to reduce the incidence of flystrike-the main reason for mulesing.
We shear our sheep in spring after they have had the benefit of their warm woolly coats to protect them during the winter but before the weather (and the flies) get active. We also crutch (removing the daggy wool on their bottoms and tails) during autumn to again reduce the risk of fly strike.
As we do not remove their tails the risk of fly strike is meant to be higher but by keeping a close eye on our sheep we are able to avoid outbreaks. They are also treated with an allowable organic lice prevention once a year.
The sheep are all free to roam the farm with plenty of space and again like the pigs are kept as a family group with each ram forming his own flock. They are grass fed all their lives and are not lot fed with grain or other supplementary feed. The only other feed they receive is our own certified organic hay or silage which gets fed out in autumn as the green feed is starting to show.
Our sheep are marketed as hogget and mutton. Hogget is described as an older animal between 12-24 months old. Mutton is meat from an animal that is more than 2 years old. Both hogget and mutton are unfairly compared to lamb but we really believe the older the animal is the tastier it is. We have butchered some two year old rams after having done a little research on the topic I discovered that older ram meat is a luxury meat in Japan. We loved it!