Counting sheep: why we love our local lamb

Aug 21, 2017

A peruse of our dinner menu will quickly reveal our commitment to locally produced food, and we couldn’t get much closer than lamb from the Titsey Estate.

We are so lucky to have such delicious quality meat farmed right on our doorstep by seventh generation farmers, the New family.

Farmer Will and his daughter Petra look after around 1,200 sheep, including 600 breeding ewes, on 160 acres, with the help of their sheep dogs, Fly and Spice. They farm the hardy Suffolk breed, known for their characteristic black faces and legs.

Much of the care of the flock falls to Petra who is up at 7am every morning to spend an hour and a half travelling the local roads around the Titsey Estate to check on the welfare of the animals. As well as ensuring they are healthy and haven’t escaped from the fields, Petra has to check the sheep haven’t fallen onto their backs - apparently a common occurrence among sheep who then can’t right themselves.

After the early start, it is back to the farmhouse for breakfast with dad and then out again to inspect the lambs, move them between fields or select animals for Allman's Slaughterhouse in Four Elms. Her 'to do list' changes depending on the season. In spring, there is lambing to be done; in the summer, the day starts even earlier, around 5am, to keep things cooler for the sheep dogs; and in the winter, the sheep are moved to different pastures to allow the Titsey Estate to recover and produce fresh juicy grass for springtime.

For 24-year-old Petra, it is a far cry from New Zealand, where she did a job placement on a sheep farm while studying for her agriculture diploma at Plumpton College. In the country where sheep outnumber humans by 10 to one, Petra found herself working in the shearing sheds, winding wool. Back home in Westerham, she is proud to be rearing sheep under Farm Assured guidelines. This means careful animal husbandry and meticulous record keeping, to ensure the best welfare for the sheep which then produces high quality meat.

We receive three lambs a week from the New family, all have been slaughtered at around five to 6 months old which produces a hearty distinctive-flavoured meat. While early spring lamb is known for its tenderness, autumn lamb has a depth of flavour. This is great news for our chefs as the meat can be given a spicier, more adventurous treatment. So next time you are here, try our tasty Roasted Titsey Estate Harissa Lamb Rump – perhaps accompanied by our very own Sheep’s Tale ale.

Tags: food, lamb, local
Category: News

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