Heifer international 2 – Time to give 10 sheep away

About two years ago I took 10 sheep and 1 ram in the framework of Heifer Project.

During these two years their number multiplied to 55 including males. Could’ve been more if I was more experienced in care for newborns… A few months ago I finished my participation by giving 10 sheep away.

I am supposed to give one ram away. But there is no demand.

At the moment I have 8 mothers, 9 winter-born lambs and about 15 males that I did not manage to sell/slaughter yet.

Even though I am vegetarian and I never wanted to do the slaughtering myself, I was forced to by conditions. Slaughterhouses in Latvia are overloaded. There are too many people breeding animals and too little slaughterhouses. Prices are average 1,5 eur per kg of live weight. Exporters offer 2 eur/kg, but require at least 50 lambs (otherwise I myself must transport at least 100 km), not heavier than 50 kg, electronic crotalia and health assesment. Having too much rams resulted in too much mess: they attacked each other, the mothers and my neighbours gardens.  At some point I invited the hunter, I watched the process and, well, killing a live creature is nothing you need a university for. Watching once was enough to be able to repeat the process. Of course, learning to do it quick and accurate, not to mess the meat and hide, that’s a matter of practice. At the moment it takes me 4 h from taking a knife in my hand to putting pieces of meat and salted hide in a cool place.

I don’t enjoy it. I also have too much other work. So I simply spread information, that anyone can buy lambs from me alive for 70 eur per animal (I calculated that giving animals to slaughterhouse would earn me average 75 eur per animal) and “self service”. At the moment I have one customer. He says he needs meet for his dog. Can you imagine? To buy lamb meat as a dog food! Latvia is amazing country. Good thing is, he does not care how old is the lamb and actually prefers bigger ones.

I also tried to sell lamb in pieces. But there is a problem. Everyone wants only legs. Sometimes a bit of ribs. The entire backbone meat I must feed to my chicken and dog. So I earn only 35 eur per animal. So I decided, if I slaughter, then I sell only the whole. That would be around 25 kg for a price of 5 eur/kg. That is 125 eur per slaughtered animal. But there were no place in people’s freezers for so much meat. One guy had place in his freezer, but 5 eur/kg was too expensive for him. That explains his empty freezer.

In the end I came to a conclusion, that the lamb meat is a good gift. Yes. If I just give it as a present. Lamb is very cheap to sell and very expensive to buy. And a good gift is hard to find in a modern plastic world. So I started to give pieces of meat to my meat-eater friends. They said they never had such a tasty meat. Of course. I know the secret – not to give the sheep industrial fodder, not even grain. Just grass and branches. And, of course, to provide as large as possible grazing area.

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About Pavels Melnis

Independent ecology activist, family farmer, gardener and forestkeeper. Musician: violin, guitar, singing. Hobbies: traveling by bicycle, learning to play different music instruments - accordion, piano, recorder flute, harmonica, drums; languages, theology, prehistory, logbuilding, repairing and recycling. Religious. Ecological. Love all things ethnic and traditional.
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