After decades of buying lamb from the southern states, chefs across the country are singing the praises of premium lamb from an unlikely source – outback Queensland.
Farmer Dave Free Range Lamb is the result of an eight year project by David Graham. Crossbreeding exotic breeds of sheep to come up with a perfectly sustainable, non-wool growing sheep, which produces succulent and healthy lamb, has resulted in a market hit.
Not content with just putting the new drought tolerant hairy sheep on the auction market, however, Graham set up a vertically integrated supply chain complete with a co-op of sheep breeding farmers, a fattening property, a processing plant, a fleet of refrigerated mobile vans and a direct to the public store.
“I believe in having a close relationship with my customers and responding immediately to their tastes,” said Graham. “Being in control of the whole process, I am able to give them what they want without any deviation.”
As Australian Agriculture increasingly moves towards the use of intensive farming practices, such as feed lotting, to manage feed fluctuations, Farmer Dave is heading in the opposite direction, with a strong belief in sustainable agriculture and the ethical treatment of animals.
With a membership in the Biological Farmers of Australia, and Slow Food International, Graham is currently working with The Humane Society International to become the first ‘Humane Choice’ Certified Lamb Brand in the world.
“Rather then try and work against nature, I decided to work alongside it, and breed a sheep that was suited to Australia’s drought conditions. In doing so I have kept with my organic principles,” he explained.
The lamb, which is a Dorper mix breed (F1 & F2), is registered with Meat Standards Australia (MSA). Now processing over 400 lambs a month, the MSA Certified Farmer Dave Free Range Lamb brand is marketed through farmers markets from Noosa to NSW, and throughout Brisbane and the Gold Coast. The processing plant is based in Ashmore on the Gold Coast.
Available online for home delivery, the company also supplies a growing list of elite restaurants.