7 January 2000

Scheme aims to lift Rough Fell lamb sales

By Jeremy Hunt

ROUGH Fell sheep breeders in south Cumbria have launched a marketing scheme to promote their pure-bred prime lambs.

Seven flock owners have formed Rough Fell Meat Producers and are taking orders for 18kg lambs at about £60 and 23kg lambs at up to £75.

The scheme, set-up within a month of the group members having the idea, is being supported by European funding through the Fells and Dales Leader II programme project operated by Voluntary Action Cumbria (VAC).

The aim is to capitalise on the traceability aspect of its prime lambs, which will be slaughtered locally and butchered by Dales Butchers in Kirkby Lonsdale.

VACs Geoff Brown says the farmers wanted to launch a scheme that would give consumers the chance to buy high quality, traditionally produced lamb direct from the farm on which it was born and with full traceability.

"Production standards, reflecting best practice, have been agreed and a partnership has been established with the Kirkby Lonsdale butchers as a major outlet.

"We hope Rough Fell lamb will soon be available through other local butchers in Cumbria and we also plan to set-up collection points for the convenience of customers," says Mr Brown, who anticipates a big demand from the countys hotels and restaurants.

Farmers have pledged that any concentrates used will not contain fishmeal. All lambs will be individually tagged for total traceability.

"It is really important to promote the qualities of local hill breeds like the Rough Fell. We produce lamb to a high standard in the Cumbrian Fells but most of it gets lost in the anonymity of the food chain.

"These hill breeds are special. They have a different taste, partly because of the traditional way in which they are reared. This project aims to highlight their individuality to consumers as well as meeting the demand for complete traceability," says Mr Brown.

Order forms for lamb from the group are now being distributed. All orders are being handled via the VAC office (01768-242130.)