Did you know that in order to produce all the wonderful dairy products that we enjoy dairy animals need to have offspring each year? For some of us, it’s a concept that we know and understand well. For others, where the milk and cheese in their fridge comes from is very much a mystery.
A dairy only needs to keep a small percentage of the animals born each year to replace aging animals, and often they don’t need to keep any males at all. This creates an opportunity for the homesteader to pick up quality animals at a good price to raise for their own meat supply. It is time consuming and costly for a dairy to keep these animals for any length of time.
This year we went to a local creamery that specializes in making cheese. They have hundreds of lambs each year and it was a great opportunity for us to pick up some lambs for our freezer this year. We purchased three 8-week-old and two 6-week-old lambs that were out on grass and growing very well.
We haven’t raised lambs here before, but we decided to move our two Dexter cows to another farm and that left an acre of grass that needed to be eaten. The nice thing about the lambs and the time of year that we went to get them (March) meant that the grass in our yard was about ready to be mowed and there weren’t a lot of other plants or trees yet up to tempt the sheep away from the grass. We were able to use the sheep to help mow our front yard before moving them into their one-acre pasture. The lambs were very appreciative and made sure to greet us at the front door to give us thanks.
The lambs will stay here for about 6 months before they are harvested in the fall. If the weather cooperates, they will have fresh grass to eat all summer long. After the pigs are harvested in the spring, their paddock will get reseeded and hopefully grow some yummy greens for the lambs to eat in the fall as well.
It really doesn’t take much grass to raise a couple of lambs, and I bet if you did some research you could find a local dairy or creamery where you could pick up a couple and put them in your yard. Lamb is making a comeback in this country, wouldn’t you like for it to grace your dinner table this fall?
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We would love to hear from you and hopefully encourage you to raise your own animals for your freezer.