We have been breeding Viking sheep for two years. In the winter we feed them silage – fermented grass from our fields. In the summer they get a natural salad bar of grass, trees and weeds. We don’t give them medications or unnatural products. Sometimes we put our sheep in small fences to make sure they eat all the good stuff and not just pick at the ‘lolly’ grass. Sheep have a bad habit of being wasteful grazers but we make sure they get a good hearty selection of everything.
Normally Norwegian farmers send their sheep up into the mountains for grazing, but we keep our sheep on the farm. This way we get to care for them better and socialize them. We train our sheep to come when called and to follow us. They know and trust us and I think they believe we are part of their flock. They come to us for scratches and enjoy grooming us (pulling on our clothes and licking). They are very affectionate and sometimes lay their heads on us to snooze in the sun. Our sheep are more than just livestock, they are loved like pets.
I thought it would be hard to cull our first season of lambs, but because their purpose is to provide good quality and healthy meat, saying good-bye to some is not that traumatic. We are proud of the way we raise our sheep and we know they get to have the best life we can offer. They are happy and thriving.
Making a cull is not just about providing us with meat but keeping the flock healthy. We keep the traits that we desire, like the sheep that can fully shed their own wool, and also personality – a non-bucking ram. We breed naturally so it is very important that we use good selection to create the best genetics.
This year we sent 12 lambs off to slaughter. Two lambs were returned for our own use and the rest was sold for profit.
The meat of our new lambs is soft, juicy and pink. The texture is velvety and very easy to butcher. The meat doesn’t take long to cook and the outcome is always fantastic. We roasted our first leg with rosemary and garlic.
Having had the responsibility of raising out own lambs made our meat priceless. We had never tasted such wonderful lamb before in our lives. It melted in our mouths. The flavour was delicate and refreshing.
Viking sheep do have a reputation for excellent meat but we believe the extra care we have taken to ensure better eating habits has made our meat outstanding.