Mutton is sheep meat. Lamb is meat from a sheep less than a year old. Both are tremendous. We have it. We would love for you to try it.

Like a number of other farms in Kentucky, Good Life Ranch maintains a flock of sheep. Unlike most of those farms, we raise our sheep naturally without grain, antibiotics, and dewormers. Our sheep are rotated every day through our pastures and woodlots ingesting fresh forage and moving away from yesterday's droppings. Sometimes they are rotating with our cattle and sometimes they are in the paddock ahead of our cattle. That means that half the sheep parasites end up dying in a cow and vice versa. When you raise sheep like this, they don't need dewormers and antibiotics because we are able to break the life cycle of parasitic worms by not returning the flock to the same patch of land until the parasites have died off due to a lack of a suitable host.

 

Our St. Croix sheep vary in personality. Some are standoffish and flighty while others, like these couple, are friendly and curious. All of the sheep, regardless of individual personality, will flock together when approached by humans or a dog. St. Croix are wonderful for training herding dogs.

We utilize portable electric fencing to keep our sheep inside their daily allotment of forage. This helps keep the sheep in, the predators out, improves the health of our sheep, and improves the health of our pastures. By rotating the sheep daily through very small paddocks, they either eat or trample all of the vegetation in that paddock. Over time this keeps our pastures full of the nutritious grasses and legumes that our grazing animals love and eliminates the weedier species that the grazers don't enjoy consuming. Our pastures look very different from pastures that are not rotationally grazed on the surrounding farms because they don't have areas of short vegetation that the animals enjoy eating spaced between tall weedy plants that the animals do not consume. Plus, the sheep leave behind quality fertilizer in the form of manure, eliminating the need to bring in fertilizer in a bag to keep the pastures growing.

Recently, words like "grass fed" and "organic" have been co-opted by industrial agriculture so that they can charge higher prices for their food products. These words have been left with little meaning to the consumer because "grass fed" may mean only that the animal had access to a small pasture for some brief period of its life while still being fed grain and antibiotics.

Let's not mince words here. Our sheep and other grazing animals receive nothing to eat other than milk from their mothers and grass (or hay) for their entire lifetimes. They get fresh grass each and every day and animals used as food never receive any hormones, antibiotics, dewormers, or steroids. They have free access to mineral salt and diatomeceous earth to help prevent worm infestations. Our sheep stay in top condition on this regimen, and the occasional sheep that struggles is not bred nor sold as food. Strict culling enables us to evolve a herd that thrives on grass alone.

Mutton also has a reputation for having a strong, distinctive taste. This comes from the lanolin produced by wool sheep to maintain their coats. St. Croix are hair sheep, not wool sheep, and do not produce lanolin. Therefore, their meat stays mild and does not develop the strong "muttony" flavor of wool sheep breeds, even in older animals.

Our sheep are protected from predators not only by the electric fencing but also by our livestock guardian dog, Bubba. He wards off coyotes and bobcats and the sheep flock around him at any disturbance.

Good Life Ranch raises heritage St Croix sheep, one of the rarest breeds of sheep in the country. They are known for exceptional resistance to parasitic worms, extremely sound hooves, and strong maternal instincts. They flock well and can be used to train herding dogs as well. They are small to medium in size, with rams able to reach about 250 lbs (although normally reaching about 200 lbs) and females topping out about 150 lbs. The ewes average more than 2 lambs per birth, so they are quite fertile and prolific. They are listed as Threatened by the Livestock Breeds Conservancy.

 

Our current herdsire is a registered RR (scrapies-resistant) ram from Hemmer Hill Farm. He is shown above at 1 year of age.

 

Our current registered stock, with complete pedigree information, can be found by visiting the St. Croix Hair Sheep International Association. We also maintain some unregistered animals as well, as some of the quality stock we have acquired was not registered when we bought them and can't be registered under the rules of this association.

Price: Varies. Registered and unregistered stock available as well as lamb and mutton.

Availability: Year round beginning in summer 2016, best in late spring and early fall.