It’s finally here! My favourite campaign in the farming calendar.
#LoveLambWeek is an annual campaign which celebrates and promotes the hardworking sheep farmers of the UK and their efforts in providing the produce on your plates.
This year’s campaign, running from the 1st – 7th September, is all about celebrating everything that is tasty about British lamb!
Personally, I like my lamb chops served with roast potatoes, veg and a dollop of homemade mint sauce.
But with recipes for lamb kebabs, herb rubbed steak and pies popping up all over the internet, the versatility of the meat is becoming common knowledge, which is great to see!
Here’s a link to some awesome lamb recipes from @simplybeeflamb should you wish to expand your tastebuds. http://www.simplybeefandlamb.co.uk/campaigns/love-lamb-week
But whilst this is a week of celebrating my favourite red meat, it is also a week of educating and shattering misconceptions about the production of lamb.
Some of these misconceptions have already surfaced on my social media timeline.
For example, this image.
It shocks me how misleading this image is.
Suggesting that the lamb in the photograph is a few months old is laughable – at most it is 4 days old.
Here are some photographs of a few months old lambs – let’s play spot the difference.
Notice how these lambs are much bigger, with broad legs, neat and compact shoulders, have a good width of loin and their tails are not too lean or fat.
These are the kind of lambs, known as finished/fat lambs, that are served on your plate – not the week old cute and cuddly one in the photograph.
But what bugs me more is the misconception that farmers are cruel to their sheep!
The reality is that sheep farmers care too much about their flocks wellbeing and a lot of time and planning goes into producing a lamb!
If farmers didn’t care, we wouldn’t spend days at an auction ringside, bidding at sheep/tups sales for additional or replacement stock to ensure our flock grows in strength.
If farmers didn’t care, we wouldn’t drag ourselves from our comfy warm beds at 5.30am to scan sheep in the freezing cold morning.
If farmers didn’t care, we wouldn’t check the sheep everyday, come rain or shine, to make sure they are all okay.
If farmers didn’t care, we wouldn’t tire ourselves out during Lambing time for months on end.
The list of daily jobs include: bottle feeding pet lambs, marking and turning out, bedding up, feeding up, checking outdoor sheep, bringing in any poorly lambs – to name a few.
Oh and of course, lambing sheep!
If farmers didn’t care, we wouldn’t spend hours out in the fields checking on new born lambs and running after them until we are blue in the face trying to catch them so that they could go back inside for some extra TLC.
We also wouldn’t free the lambs who get their heads stuck in fences and suffocate themselves, a notorious party trick for horned lambs!
If farmers didn’t care, we wouldn’t spend most of our time maintaining our flocks welfare through daily chores of dosing, foot-trimming (the smelliest job!) and rubber ringing lambs.
If farmers didn’t care, we wouldn’t work long hours gathering and sorting lambs to go to the auction/abattoir in sweltering conditions.
So, think again before stating farmers don’t care – we clearly do! This, in short, is how the lamb on your plate is produced.
A final point to mention is that not all lambs are produced solely for meat! For example, we select Swaledale/Texel lambs each year in order to improve the quality of our future flock.
For me, #LoveLambWeek is an incredibly important campaign that sheep farmers everywhere need to get behind.
It is time we educate our consumers about the provenance of their meat, rather than leaving it all to Google.
If you are still unsure about eating lamb, ask your local farmer questions and if possible, go and see how lamb is produced.
Support us by buying lamb directly from local butchers or consciously selecting British Lamb at the supermarket.
And finally join in with #LoveLambWeek and promote our hardworking sheep farmers!