Pitt Island Wild Sheep lead a wild life... and you can taste the difference

Pat Deavoll 09:52, Oct 01 2018

stuff.co.nz

Away out on the south side of Banks Peninsula, where the wind gives the tussocks a permanent bend and the next stop is Antarctica, a group of small dark sheep move slowly up a hill.

They graze, but also lift their heads and test the air, wary of some presence they can't yet fathom.

Suddenly a shot rings out, and the half-grown lamb loitering on the edge of the group drops to the ground. The rest scatter, helter-skelter, up and down the slope, as two men come loping down.

The men sling the animal between them and start toiling back up the hill.

The sheep are Pitt Island wild sheep, or pihepe, as the farmers, Roger and Nicki Beattie, have named them.

This lamb will become part of the latest venture by the entrepreneurial couple; Wyld lamb.

Grown sustainably and ethically without chemicals in a wild environment, the sheep are then served up in some of the best restaurants in the country.

The lambs are shot, rather than go through the stress of a muster, and a trip to the freezing works which makes them all the tastier.

And with pihepes there is no drenching, no dipping, no vaccinations, no penicillin.

"They have a very happy, wild, carefree life until bang, they are on the dinner table. There isn't a less stressful or more organic, ethical system for producing meat than that," Roger Beattie says.

The Pitt Island wild sheep piqued Roger Beattie's interest many years ago.

"I went to school with some guys from the Chathams and they talked about shooting wild sheep on Pitt Island. After school, I ended up on Pitt culling the sheep. They were eating the grass the romneys could have been eating," he says.

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Angela Low