By Brandy Harrison
EMBRUN Lamb may no longer be a high-end luxury but some sheep farmers are scratching their heads over what the new convenience-obsessed, on-the-go customer wants.
“How important is the traditional leg of lamb roast anymore? How much time does todays homemaker have to spend in the kitchen to prepare to a sit-down Sunday dinner?” asks Osgoode sheep farmer Colleen Acres, chair for district 10 of the Ontario Sheep Marketing Agency. “We have to realize if we dont get what the consumers want, theyre not going to pay us for our efforts the way we think we deserve to be paid.”
The districts sheep day on Feb. 21 aims to help sheep farmers take the guesswork out of raising lamb for changing consumer appetites with a panel that includes a lamb buyer and feedlot operator, an abattoir operator, and possibly a retailer. The panel will kick off a full day of speakers, running from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., at Knights of Columbus Hall at 5 Rue Forget in Embrun, southeast of Ottawa.
Sheep farmers just werent aware that customers have been clamouring for more ready-made meals and may have a lot to learn, explains Acres, who runs Maple Meadow Farms with her husband, Dwayne Bazinet, and their three sons, Mitchell, Taylor, and Kieran.
Going by the tagline “how to build a better lamb,” the workshop is designed with new and experienced producers in mind. Farmers will also get the rundown on genetics, reproduction, and recordkeeping from OMAFRAs sheep specialist, Delma Kennedy; conformation traits to watch for in ewes and rams; and nutrition tips from Dr. Paul Luimes, a professor and researcher at Ridgetown College.
Cost is $30 and includes lunch. Registration begins at 9:30 a.m.