Lamb hunter: 'They have a good life, then bang'

Ewan Sargent. Oct 30 2018

stuff.co.nz

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Lambs as young as four months old will be stalked and shot on a Banks Peninsula property leading up to Christmas.

These are wild sheep that have never been mustered, drafted or dosed.

The first time they will have anything to do with humans is when a bullet hits home.

Roger Beattie has a flock of about 1500 completely wild Pitt Island sheep on his Banks Peninsula property and admits the idea of lambs being hunted and shot might be uncomfortable for some people. But it doesn't worry him.

"People are uncomfortable about a lot of things," he says, laughing.


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The lambs become Wyld Lamb branded meat and go to top restaurants and hunting lodges.

"Our target market is not vegans," Beattie says.

"The sort of people we are targeting know that if you want to have meat you have to kill the animal. There is no such thing as tasty, vegetarian meat."

He says his sheep are ethically raised and killed.

"We don't bring them into the yard. We don't put them on a truck and drive them six hours before they go to a freezing works. We just shoot them in the field. And that's it. They have a good life, then bang."

Beattie plans to hold three hunts a year - culling lambs nearly 12 months old in June-August; 7-8 months old in March-April for Easter and the 4-5 month old lambs for Christmas in December.

He's already held two hunts and says the Christmas lambs will be "very sweet, very tasty, they will be getting protein from the mother but also browsing".

He says wild sheep eat what they want, rather than just having the choice of clover or rye grass. Their nutrient-dense food gives them nutrient-dense meat that is high in omega 3.

"It's coastal lamb. They are browsing grasses, herbs and clovers and shrubs and native bushes. So there is a flavour profile that is more complex and deeper than any other lamb."

Asked if four months is too young to hunt and shoot, he says ordinary sheep farmers will be drafting lambs off to the works before Christmas.

Beattie says the wild sheep are like sheep are supposed to be. They have tails and no flystrike and no foot problems or internal parasite problems.

"I'm a certified hunter. So we will shoot it in the wild, gut it, and then take it to a chiller, hold it three days and then take it to an outfit in Christchurch, a certified processor."

At the moment all his lamb goes to restaurants and lodges. He is looking into expanding that to the public in future.

Cuisine chef of the year Giulio Sturla of Roots in Lyttelton is using the lamb and says the flavour is impressive because of the wide variety of food the sheep eat boosted by the saltiness from roaming the banks of Akaroa Harbour.

He says another flavour boost comes the lambs dying without stress.

"There aren't the chemical processes that come when the animal goes through fear and stress before being killed in a slaughterhouse," Sturla says.

Angela Low