September is the perfect time to buy British lamb. Not only does it taste great, it’s also has excellent environmental credentials and is naturally rich in protein and provides vitamins which are good for health and wellbeing. But where does your British lamb come from? It comes from family farms like this where caring for their animals is a top priority.
NFU Ambassador and young farmer Sioned Davies has given us 8 facts about British lamb that you may not have known,and a few reasons why you should be buying British lamb.
During these uncertain times, health is something a lot more of us are now taking more seriously. But it’s hard to sometimes search through the misinformation and slim tea diets for the correct information on what our bodies needs. Well, one thing’s for sure, lamb should definitely be on your list of go to health foods. It’s packed with protein, and is rich in Vitamin B12, essential for blood formation and brain function. Lamb is also packed with iron which is extremely important for adolescents as it helps with muscle development and growth, but many adolescents are not consuming enough iron which can impact cognitive ability and behaviour.
65% of UK farmland is best suited for growing grass, and sheep love to eat grass! It’s incredible really, these animals are able to utilise areas of the UK that farmers would never be able to use to grow fruit or veg and turn it into delicious and nutritious meat.
3. Low and slow (cooking)
So, what’s the best way to eat lamb? One tip: low and slow. Slow cooked lamb is one of the most delicious foods, and so easy! Stick a joint of lamb in the slow cooker either overnight or all day and you’re guaranteed a delicious meal.
You’re probably familiar with some of the classic lamb flavours such as mint, rosemary and garlic. But how about pomegranate, apricots or honey to give a fresh and flavourful snap to your lamb meals.
5. How many sheep in UK
Did you know there are approximately 22.5 million sheep in the UK?!
6. Just meat?
Meat is the main product of sheep, but their wool, milk and skin can also be used, which makes them one of the most sustainable animals. Wool is an amazing product with so many uses and sheep need to be sheared to keep them fit and healthy. Many farmers this year have struggled to sell their wool so more needs to be done to demonstrate the versatility of British wool.
There are approximately 90 different sheep breeds and crosses in the UK with each one uniquely bred to thrive in certain environments. For example, a hill breed such as a Herwick has been bred to be hardy and able to live in difficult terrain and harsh weather conditions. Whereas a lowland breed such as a Texel has been bred to grow quickly. The badger face welsh mountain is believed to be one of the oldest British sheep breeds.
Sheep have been a common sight in the UK since Roman times with their wool, meat and milk forming and essential part of Medieval Trade.
Lamb has a number of qualities it brings to the dinner table. So NFU Student and Young farmer Ambassador Anna has given us 5 reasons why we should all enjoy British lamb well beyond Love Lamb Week.
The most important reason - British lamb is full of flavour! Many chefs have sworn by British lamb in the past and MasterChef’s John Torode is a great lover of this great product.
2. Good for the environment
Due to Britain’s climate and weather patterns, we have an excellent ability to grow grass and this goes hand in hand with rearing grass-fed livestock. Most lambs spend most of their life outside on pasture, which is not only extremely healthy for livestock, but also has benefits for our landscape. 70% of British sheep live on land that we cannot grow crops on, like mountain and hills. Livestock grazing helps to manage grass species and encourages wild flowers and species of insects to flourish.
3. Health benefits
British lamb is very good for you; not only is it a source of high-quality protein, but it also a source of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin B12, zinc, potassium and iron. These are very important for muscle growth and repair, so lamb is a great recovery aid for athletes especially. Lamb also contains health-promoting omega 3 fatty acids.
4. High standards
British lamb is produced to some of the highest animal welfare standards in the world. Lamb which has the Red Tractor label on it is part of an assurance scheme which means that the product is fully traceable, safe and produced to high welfare standards. Each farm must undergo an annual inspection where farmers must, amongst other things, prove they have completed records for movements of animals and medicine records, as well as having their farm inspected physically.
5. Low food miles
British means British! And that means low food miles, and therefore less global greenhouse gas emissions from transportation. Agriculture is responsible for around 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions, whereas transportation is responsible for around 27%. Therefore, buying local food can help our planet!! If lamb is sold locally, why not buy it locally?
Here's Warwickshire farmer Adam to tell us more and to give us an insight into his life as a sheep farmer.