We're puttingMuskoka Lamb back on the map
The cultural history of Muskoka lamb runs as deep as the steamship rivers and is as old as the heydays of the wooden framed resorts.
As Muskoka's up and coming primary producer of Muskoka Lamb, we have made a long term commitment to our local food community and 100 mile foodshed (Toronto to North Bay) to provide quality, fresh Muskoka lamb year round. We have a focus on Grass Fed Grain Finished lamb which we produce in the grazing season, and out of season we produce lamb fed on hay and grain.
Muskoka Lamb is our farm's primary product! The finishing style depends on what time of year the lamb is born and what natural feeds are available during the grow out phase.
In the late 1800s the original agricultural surveys of Ontario were conducted. Muskoka-Parry sound was listed as having the best potential in Ontario for the production of lamb. This was largely based on two factors; 1. The annual rainfall being slightly higher than either the north or the south of the province, with the distribution through the season being more even. 2. The land is well suited for growing grass, cannot be easily cultivated and the shallow soils lend themselves to to permanent plantings for grazing and hay.
One of the important original foundation sheep flocks of Muskoka was kept at the Monteith House resort purchased in 1878, owned by John Monteith.
Monteith was largely responsible for the booming popularity of Muskoka Lamb, featured on menus of fine dining establishments across North America
Bird’s Woolen Mill in Bracebridge grew to be one of the largest wool processing mills in Canada at the time. Bird being one of the founding members of the Canadian Co-operative Wool Growers (CCWG),which is still operational.
Nutrient dense and full of flavour. Grass fed meats pick up the flavour of the environment. Along with grass, our sheep graze lichens, mosses, browse on sheep sorrell and enjoy the unique plant biome which is Muskoka. To finish the lambs, a bit of grain is fed in the fall. Earlier lambs have been fed no or minimal grain. No other lamb, produced anywhere else in the world, can taste like Grass Fed Muskoka Lamb. High in Omega 3s, CLA, calcium, and antioxidants grass fed meat is what the health consicous consumer seeks. And the taste is phenomenal. We consider this our premium lamb.
Our grain fed lambs are fed both hay and grain, as this is a nutritionally sound diet to support growth and health in a young lamb born in the time of year when there is no grass. Grain fed lamb has the benefit of being exceptionally mild in flavour and having an excellent meat to bone ratio. Meaty cuts of prime Muskoka (Ontario) lamb satisfy the most discerning palettes.
We GRAZE our sheep!! I mean we REALLY graze our sheep. With an educational background in hort/ag and having done previous work in pastures at U of G, farmer Heather brings a strong passion for grass ecology to our farm.
Many Ontario farms graze in spring and due to poor pasture management, by July these farms are feeding supplemental hay on pasture. These short, overgrazed pastures are not sequestering high amounts of carbon, are not fostering biodiversity or bird habitat and are not supporting strong, grass based lamb growth. We are proud to boast an average of 215 annual grazing days on our farm and only 150 where we feed hay. Our pastures are long, even when the sheep are not on them, full of biodiversity, full of habitat for wildlife, full of carbon and full of water.
In 2018 we began work on a project to restore derelicted farmland which previously had the topsoil stripped and sold. When topsoil is removed, it is nearly akin to permanently sentencing that land to a non agricultural existence. This limits the capacity of any community to produce food for decades or even centuries.
We are restoring the topsoil using managed grazing with our sheep. Our management system mimics the natural passage and migration of wild sheep flocks. Using moveable fencing, we move the sheep every day to new grazing ground.
The sheep are kept in a dense mob within the fencing. Much of the graze is trampled into the ground in a short period of time, and the sheep move on.
The trampled grass breaks down quickly and becomes new topsoil, sequestering atmospheric carbon and locking it into the soil .
This regenerative practice is reffered to as Tall Grass Mobstock Grazing. After just one pass, we were able to notice a discernable difference and improvement in the field.