Roger Beattie’s flock of 1,500 Pitt Island sheep runs completely wild. His Banks Peninsula property allows for sheep to go their entire lives without ever meeting a human – until they’re shot.
Some people are uncomfortable with certified hunter Beattie’s practice, but he pointed out farming lamb is more inhumane. “We don’t bring them into the yard. We don’t put them on a truck and drive them six hours before they go to a freezing works. We just shoot them in the field. And that’s it. They have a good life, then bang,” explained Beattie.
The lambs are Wyld Lamb branded, and popular with chefs for their unique flavour. “It’s coastal lamb,” said Beattie. “They’re browsing grasses, herbs, clovers, and native bushes. There’s a flavour profile more complex and deep than any other lamb.”
Beattie holds three hunts a year: 12-month-old lambs in June-August; 7-8-month-old lambs in March-April; and 4-5-month-old lambs in December.
Giulio Sturla, an award-winning chef at Roots in Lyttleton, uses the lamb because of the impressive flavour. He believes this is due to the variety of food they eat and the stress-free death they face. “There aren’t the chemical processes that come when the animal goes through fear and stress before being killed in a slaughterhouse,” said Sturla.