Our Animal Explanation
• the sheep breed/s you raise and why
Our entire farming operation, especially when considering our agricultural limitations, are reliant on genetics. We originally formed our business around a breed (East Friesian) that originated in one of the highest fecundity regions of the World – not much chop on the driest continent in the World!! They required immense amounts of high protein fodder, had inherent respiratory illness issues relating to centuries of European ‘housed farming’ or ‘intensive farming’ techniques, are pale faced and bare breeched. So……. they cost a heap to feed, would die as soon as look at cold and wet weather outdoors and developed squamous cell carcinomas on their ears and vaginas. Why bother with them at all I hear you ask?? Simple. They were our only choice at the time. We have many sheep on our wide, brown continent but milking ‘tasty sheep’ or ‘woolly sheep’ will only send you broke. If you’re gonna milk a lactating ruminant better make sure they’re very ‘milky’.
In 2006 we finally managed to procure a mob of abandoned pure Awassi ewes. These genetics are very rare and tightly held by a Middle Eastern consortium here in Australia. There are two strains of Awassi – a meat strain (highly prized for their fat tail amongst Persians/Middle Easterners) and a milk strain. We have both on farm and they are absolutely key to everything we do here. They are browsers. They forage for food and select intuitively what they need seasonally. They are the fattest of fat tailed breeds. This means, like a camel, they store fat in their tails (up to 10kg) for ‘lean’ fodder times. They have not come from areas where their genetics have been ‘engineered’ to suit modern farming and thus they’ve retained desert like hardiness. A perfect animal for our environment and our farm and farming system/philosophy!
Grandvewe is the only combined sheep dairy and Cheeseryin the state, located at Birch’s Bay in Southern Tasmania. Set in a peaceful bush location overlooking the ocean, our sheep have 40 acres of organically-farmed pasture to graze on and drink our natural rainwater. We prioritise the health and happiness of our sheep, which is why our flockkeep their tails and rams keep their testicles.
We don’t mess with nature. Our ewes naturally lactate between the months of October and March, which is when they are milked twice per day for 4 months and once for a further 2 months. The rest of the time our sheep live an idyllic life in the country. Our lambs suckle from their mothers and lambs are weaned before we start milking the mother ewes again. When our girls get too old to produce milk, they live out the rest of their peaceful lives in our ewe retirement village.
To respect our sheep and the beautiful environment around us, nothing is wasted here. Unlike the poor rams at many dairy farms,our rams have a chance to enjoy a peaceful existence on our farm for a couple of years before their lives are ended humanely. This meat is used for our Kransky sausages which are served at our on-site cafe. We also make award winning vodka and gin from our sheep whey on site at Hartshorn Distillery. The Pinot paste we create is made from old Pinot pressings and surplus local apples. Another innovation is our Gin Herbalist cheese which gets its unique flavour from the ingredients used to infuse our internationally-acclaimed and award winning gin.
Our family business is founded on respect for our sheep, respect for the environment and a love of exceptional cheese. We welcome you to Grandvewe and hope to show you our beautiful dairy farm if ever you choose to visit.