Pasture born and raised
I manage my sheep in a way that respects their character, wildness, and needs. My goal is to provide them the highest quality of life possible. They're raised in a beautiful, diverse environment, and eat a wide selection of grasses, clovers, weeds, shrubs and trees. They enjoy lots of space in which to eat, socialize, play and live healthy lives. They are protected from predators by their guardian dogs (Belle, Ernie, Fred and Freya), and are kept in optimal health through the diligence of their shepherd (me - Adam MacLean). This is a truly respectful and deeply ethical form of animal husbandry, guided by my values and our best current understanding of animal welfare, nutrition and pasture management. It's also a beautiful form of land management and food production.
The full story, straight from the shepherd...
Vigorous, hardy and independent sheep
I hope these photos provide some insight into the care and attention that goes into raising these lambs. As you can see, I strive to follow natural cycles as much as possible, and adapt my management to the respect the character of my sheep friends. Sheep spend the winter in the great outdoors, breathing fresh air, and eating hay harvested in late spring. In bad weather, they take themselves to the woods, a beautiful living barn. This lifestyle keeps them healthy and fit, so that they can successfully deliver lambs in May. They lamb out on the hills, fed by the spring flush of grass. They are allowed to bond with their lambs, without intervention. If all goes well (as it usually does), the shepherd doesn't have to get involved at lambing.
Pasture born and raised
All my sheep, including the lambs, are raised on pasture, moved daily to fresh grass. This stimulates a hearty appetite and curiosity for an ever-changing, and always very clean environment. It also ensures that I keep moving them away from their manure, preventing potential disease issues. Especially during the hotter and colder seasons, I ensure that every paddock (small daily field) has trees, so that sheep can take refuge from the elements. In late fall, lambs get a small amount of whole grain barley (grown by my neighbour, just across the road). This barley gives them the energy needed to keep growing well.
Attentive care through the entire life
I weigh and check the whole flock every few weeks, to ensure that everybody remains healthy and gaining weight. I'm proud to have developed low-stress handling facilities and procedures that work with sheep psychology, to ensure that everybody remains calm and contented. I speak with my flock daily - they know my voice and run towards me. My goal as a shepherd is to reduce stress as much as possible, ensuring that the sheep have a high quality of life. This commitment carries through to the end. Lambs are checked every week, to determine which are ready for the market. When ready, a group of lambs walks into the back of my pickup truck, and we head to MacPhee Meats, a short drive away. There, they're processed shortly after arrival, with the utmost care and attention. This is necessary so that I can fulfill my commitment to my flock, and to ensure that the animals are unstressed - a requirement for delicious meat. I take my responsibilities very seriously. I aspire to produce the most ethical meat possible. The next step in this process is to find consumers who will respect this meat by preparing it with care, and eat it with deep appreciation.
If you want to know more, I invite you to come out to the farm for a visit and tour - by appointment only. Book here.
For another perspective, check out this article about my startup sheep operation, from Salty: The Island's Food Digest