Pasture Raised Lamb
Ewes and their lambs grazing lush green grass at Jehovah-Jireh Farm
Hi, I'm Nathan Horst, the second oldest son and head shepherd and pasture manager here at Jehovah-Jireh Farm. I love sheep and it is my passion to raise the highest quality, best tasting, pasture-raised lamb possible. I began raising sheep in 2001 at the age of eight when I got my first ewe (female) lamb. A poem I wrote three years later shows the passion I had for sheep even way back then:
If I'd have a million bucks,
I'd spend it all on sheep.
You'd never catch me spending it
To buy a silly jeep!
Of course I'd need to get some land,
And put in water tanks.
And then my sheep would smile at me,
And baa their humble thanks.
My ewes would then have woolly lambs
That bounce and run all day.
While their mothers ate green grass nearby,
And I would watch them play.
There is no other animal
That I like more then sheep.
That's why I'd spend a million bucks,
To get some sheep to keep.
Although I have found shepherding—particularly with using organic principles, and grass-fed combined—to be much more difficult than the poem makes it sound, and I did buy a Jeep for my first vehicle, my love for sheep has only grown. In 2005 I "really started farming"—I purchased nine really nice Dorset ewes from a local farm. From that foundation flock and with a few additions it has slowly grown.
In 2008 I bought my first Texel sheep. Within a few years I switched over to using all Texel rams on my ewes. That change has made a world of difference in the growth of the lambs. The Texel breed of sheep grows faster, grows well on grass, has less fat and more meat, and the taste is unrivaled.
So when I say that I use organic principles—does that mean that I am certified organic? No. They are not certified but I raise my lambs without the use of chemicals, or vaccines, on chemical-free pasture. Even if I was to certify the animals, there are no organic butchers in the area so the meat would still not be able to be certified.
So why am I so dedicated to raising lambs using organic principles and 100% on pasture? Wouldn't that make it much more difficult to raise them? Wouldn't it be much easier to just put them in a feedlot and fatten them out on corn and chemicals?
Yes, it would be much easier in some regards to raise them in confinement because there would not be as much of a problem with parasites, and grain would make them put on the pounds. Most pasture-based sheep farms are not organic and do not use organic principles. Some feed grain in addition to the pasture. Even if they are "natural", the farmers are usually still giving their lambs chemicals. Sheep—particularly lambs—are susceptible to internal parasites, and on pasture the parasite problem is much worse than in a feedlot. Because of this, chemical wormers are used—quite heavily in some cases.
However, chemicals and grain do not produce a healthy meat for the consumer. The lamb you buy from Jehovah-Jireh Farm is raised 100% on grass forage and their mother's rich milk without chemicals or vaccines. Pasture raised lamb is one of the healthiest meats you can eat—chock-full of many different vitamins and minerals. Pasture raised lamb also has a higher amount of cancer-fighting Omega-3's and CLA than grain finished lamb. Our grass fed lamb has a wonderful mild flavor and has been very popular with our customers. It is without a hint of the "wild" or "gamey" off-flavor that is fairly common in some lamb.
The sheep receive a garlic, molasses, and Aloe Vera worming mixture on a regular schedule. This has been a big help and boosts general health. The other part of the equation in parasite control is in building up and improving the soil. If the lamb is getting the nutrition it needs from the grass, it will not only grow much better, and taste better, but it will be much more resistant to parasites. We have come a long way, and I continue to do all I can to improve the soil and make it even more healthy and productive.
The lamb is processed locally near Hagerstown, MD at Horst Meats under USDA inspection. Horst Meats is a small family operated abattoir owned and operated by some of my relatives.
Our lamb is sold here at the farm frozen and vacuum packed by the half and whole and by the individual cut. We do not sell live lambs to individuals.
The whole and half lambs are sold by dressed weight at $9.50/lb. This is not the hanging weight that many producers use, but the actual weight of the cuts of lamb that you will receive. The lambs range from 75—100 lbs. live weight which for a whole lamb will translate into approximately 30—40 lbs. of premium meat that you take home.
If you want to make sure you get a whole lamb or want a certain size within the range available, you can make a $100 deposit to reserve one. We have a standard cut sheet that you can use, or you can customize it to your own likings.
If you want a half lamb, you can make a deposit of $75.00 to reserve it, but you will not be able to customize the way it is cut up. Either way you would pick your lamb up here at the farm. We also sometimes have whole lambs on hand, frozen and ready to be picked up; however, before coming out, you should check the price list to see if they are in stock.
When you purchase lamb from Jehovah-Jireh Farm, you are supporting a local farmer, and you can see for yourself how I raise it. This is impossible if you buy imported lamb. If you buy "grass fed lamb" from the other side of the world how can you be sure that it ever saw a blade of grass in its life?
For the price list and to check availability of individual cuts and whole lambs, click here.