Sheep have been raised here on and off for 200 years, and they fit in perfectly with our rolling topography and small scale. Their winter manure and bedding provide the majority of our annual compost needs for the vegetables, and they just plain look good as they wend their way across the pastures throughout the summer.
The flock began with a group of Navajo-Churros which is listed as a heritage breed that is making a comeback. We still have a handful of pure-bred Churros left, but we are in the process of transitioning to a mostly Dorset flock. The Dorset is a familiar looking white sheep with a bright-pink nose. While many people raise Dorsets as huge leggy show sheep, we pride our Dorsets as being short round production sheep. We brought in our original genetics from Chet Parsons in Richford, VT and Kathy Soder in Petersburg, PA. The Dorset has a medium quality wool, delicious meat, and is perfect for our pasture-based system.
We raise the best-tasting lamb around and our careful management creates a wonderfully consistent product. Our lambs are raised here at Sunrise, born in February and March. They do sneak away with some of their mother’s grain in the barn, but the lambs are fed exclusively pasture from mid May on out. We practice management intensive grazing. Not a day goes by when the sheep aren't moved to a new section of pasture. This means the sheep are always eating the highest quality grasses and legumes available, and our pastures are healthy and vibrant.
While the sheep are released onto pasture in May, spring also marks the beginning of the haying season. We make all of our own hay to have better control over the quality of winter feed. Hayfields and pasture are rotated throughout the season to help control parasites that are deadly to sheep. This means we rarely treat our sheep with chemical dewormers, and depending on the year we may not need to treat at all.
A note on organic: our lambs are not certified organic because our pastures, hay, and any whole corn we feed the ewes during lambing are not organic. We make our own hay and purchase small amounts of whole corn from local Vermont-based businesses.
Size and Pricing
Lamb will be available for pickup between October and late November. Pricing is based on the size of the lamb. A small lamb providing 25-30 pounds of meat will be $325, a medium lamb providing 30-35 pounds of meat will be $350, and a large lamb providing 35-40 pounds of meat will be $375. If you prefer roasts (leg or shoulder) without the bone, there is a $15 boneless fee. The cut sheet is customizable, but in general, you’ll receive chops, legs, shanks, stew meat, and burger. Each box of lamb is roughly the size of a full brown shopping bag.
We no longer sell half lambs. For those of you who have ordered half lambs in the past, you’ll be happy this year if you order a whole lamb that is small. We’ll have complete control over the process, so we can match people up with the size they prefer.
We sell most of our lambs to our CSA customers, but you don’t need to be a CSA member to purchase lamb. Send us an email or fill out the form below if you'd like to reserve your lamb for 2017.