The farm had always had some sheep, like most small mixed farms, but in the late 90’s the sheep were sold to enable us to focus on the cattle. In 2014 Lindsay's passion for sheep won the family over and she bought 6 Oxford Down ewes from a farm at Bradford-on-Avon. Since then she has kept female lambs to breed from, with most of the ram lambs being sold as meat boxes and just one or two of the best rams each year being kept or sold as breeding animals. In recent years females have been sold to other farms for breeding. Success in the show ring has been an excellent advert for the breeding stock. The flock has now grown to 35 breeding females with a further 21 ewe lambs to breed from or sell this year.
The Oxford is a large woolly sheep and would have been valued for its fantastic fleece as well as its meat in times gone by. Unfortunately it lost its popularity as a breed when the supermarkets required smaller joints to fit in plastic boxes.
The Oxford Down is on the Rare Breeds Survival Trust's list as a minority breed, meaning there are only in the region of 1500 breeding females in the country. Although it sounds counterintuitive, the best way to prevent a breed from becoming extinct is to eat it. This gives value to the breed and finances the running of the commercial flocks that are vital to their survival.
Our lambs are born in January and are out on fresh grass as soon as the weather allows. We run a grazing system that means the sheep get a fresh section of pasture every day. The lambs eat no grain based feed (with the exception of what they steal from their mum's feed troughs in the first week or two). Feeding the lambs just grass is better for the environment and produces healthier meat.
Last year, the shoulder of lamb won a Great Taste award and was described by the judging panel as "Delicate but with true flavour. Very tender with natural herbaceous notes" Only the top entries are awarded a prize, either 1, 2 or 3 gold stars so we were delighted to get 2 gold stars.
Our lamb is available as whole or half boxes and new for this year, lamb taster boxes.