Tasteful, Tender, and Lean — some of the many reasons why California lamb is so unique!
California Lamb is available year round. Milk-fed Spring Lamb is available just in time for Easter. Spring Lamb – ready in late spring and summer supplies the needs of customers throughout the year.
A key factor to California lamb’s unique tenderness, taste and leanness can be attributed to favorable year-round growing conditions. Early and mild spring weather generates a wide variety of high-protein feeds and a very healthy environment to bring the lambs to market as soon as directly after weaning and reduce the stress to both the lambs and the ewes.
California’s highly diverse geography allows sheep ranchers to utilize the best feeds available. Lower elevation valley operations use lush alfalfa hay in the fall, and move to foothill pastures in the spring. In the summer, sheep may be transported to the high mountain ranges for that rich forage. In other areas, lambs graze on protein-rich clover in irrigated pastures. Any and all of these feeds produce excellent-quality California lamb with its outstanding reputation for taste, tenderness, and leanness making it much in demand for many different markets.
As one of most populated states in the Union, California has a very advanced infrastructure. Remote pastures and rangelands are easily and quickly accessible by a well-maintained road and highway system. The many livestock trucking companies operating in California offer modern, healthy, low-stress conditions for moving bands of sheep quickly from one location to another, as well as to market.
Sheep ranchers rely on a mixture of observation, experience, and a hope-and-prayer that the weather will cooperate when it comes to managing the flocks, using reason and judgment to capitalize on the diverse and numerous natural resources available in California, as well as the physical conditions, such as rainfall, temperature, and feed.
Sheep excel in peaceful, calm surroundings, so one of the rancher’s primary objectives is to maintain a reduced-stress environment where the sheep can grow and flourish naturally.
Benefits To The Environment
Sheep in California bring numerous benefits to the environment, including:
Wildlife habitat improvement
Sheep play an important part in improving wildlife habitats by grazing foliage while leaving more seeds for bird and small animal feed.
In bird nesting areas, the grazing sheep prune tall grasses, providing clean, healthy, protected conditions for the birds to build nests. Incidentally, many nesting birds in these areas use wool scraps to line their nests.
Herbicide reduction for weed control
Herbicide usage is reduced when sheep graze croplands by removing crop residue before spray applications and allowing more direct contact on the target weeds in alfalfa, grains, and other crops. Grazing along the many miles of levees accompanying the Central Valley waterways reduces the chances of herbicide contamination in the water by making it unnecessary for farmers to spray herbicides onto the levees.
Better crops and easier land preparation
Sheep grazing on croplands improves the efficiency of the operations of many farmers in California. Because sheep graze on residue foliage, it takes less time to prepare the land for the next crop. Reduced weeds yield lush alfalfa with no dry matter in the fresh-cut hay for more nutritious feed. Additionally, the crops and land benefit from the natural fertilizer generated by the sheep. All of which ultimately translates to less time and lower operating costs to the farmer, which in turn means less pollution and a better environment for all of us.
Watch our video for more about the benefits of the California Sheep Commission.