More than 15 million[i] sheep graze on England’s green and pleasant lands and as Love Lamb Week begins, data has revealed the areas and counties in which most flocks are based.
Coming in top is the South West, where more than 3.1 million sheep graze its rugged coastlines and rolling hills. Sheep in the area make up more than 21 per cent of the country’s flocks and because of the milder weather the breeding season starts early, meaning the area produces some of the first English lamb of the year.
In second at the other end of the country is the North West and Merseyside, with more than three million sheep. Within the region, almost 50 per cent of the sheep are farmed in East Cumbria with its stunning mountains and moorlands. While the area is home to the most sheep, the average household in the North of England buys only 3.9 kilos of lamb a year, nine per cent less than the British average of 4.3 kilos[ii].
Third and fourth place is close, with the West Midlands area home to almost 2.2 million sheep and Yorkshire and the Humber area more than 2.1 million. Within North Yorkshire more than 1.7 million sheep are managed – 82 per cent of those in the wider Yorks and Humber area, with the counties of Shropshire and Herefordshire home to the most sheep in the Midlands.
Based in the South West of England sheep farmer Rollo Deutsh, said: “Every lamb I produce here in Gloucestershire is reared as naturally as possible off grass in a rural environment. They are Cotswold born and bred, forage fed and they even get to drink fresh spring water too.
“My sheep are ready generally for market in August and September, and only have to travel four miles down the road – so my business is very sustainable and local, which shoppers are helping to support when they buy lamb.”
Based up in the North West of England, AHDB Challenge Sheep member Pete Webster farms on Matson Ground Estate, Windermere, running upland beef and sheep enterprises.
Pete said: “I’m the first in my generation to farm sheep, so it’s important to make sure that my flock both benefits the environment and delivers financially, so I have a sustainable business to pass on to the next generation of Cumbrian sheep farmers.
“The lamb I produce is typically ready after Easter so it’s good that this year’s Love Lamb Week is trying to change tradition and put lamb on plates year round, particularly later in the year when British production is at its peak. I’d encourage people to try lamb with some of the delicious and easy new recipes like honey and mustard lamb kebabs or oriental lamb stir fry, which can be cooked in less than 30 minutes.”
Love Lamb Week is an industry-wide initiative involving the Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board (AHDB), the National Sheep Association (NSA), the National Farmers’ Union (NFU), Red Tractor, HCC in Wales, LMCNI in Northern Ireland and QMS in Scotland.
To find out more lamb recipes visit: SimplyBeefandLamb.co.uk and share posts of delicious lamb dishes and sheep in stunning locations use #LoveLamb and #LoveLambWeek.
[i] Data taken from the Defra Structure of the Agricultural Industry in England https://www.gov.uk/government/statistical-data-sets/structure-of-the-agricultural-industry-in-england-and-the-uk-at-june
[ii] Kantar Worldpanel Data Lamb 52 w/e 17-Jun-18