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Frequently Asked Questions
What is 'seaweed' lamb?
Our exclusive Seaweed Lamb is sourced from Shetland crofters whose land has boundaries to the extensive, rugged shoreline. Lamb is carefully selected from these remote crofts and islands (many of which are uninhabited by man) by our experienced staff. The seaweed phenomenon is renowned through out Shetland. Ewes which have access to the seashore supplement their diet with seaweed during the winter months when they are pregnant and just after they give birth to their lambs. This natural process can continue up until June when the grass pastures and hill grazing bursts into life. If you would like to see pictures of the process, please contact the office. Shetland sheep have a unique ability to be actutely aware of upcoming changes in their natural environment. The sheep smell the scent of fresh seaweed and are attracted to the shore to feed. It is also thought that they can detect the tidal patterns. This unique grazing combination of heather, grassy patsures, seaweed and mosses give the meat a truly unique flavour. The tasting experience is truly a personal one and everybody has their own description of the sensation. In addition, the foraging distances means that the meat is exceptionally tender.
What is 'hill' lamb?
The true home of Shetland lamb is foraging among the remote heather hills which dominate Shetland's mysterious landscape. These open hill areas are vast and unspoilt. The Lambs can forage over great distances and this makes for a lean, succulent tasting experience. Shetland hill lamb really has to be tasted to be believed.
What is 'Island' lamb?
Shetland farmers also cross Shetland sheep with UK breeds such as Texel, Cheviot and Suffolk. This combination makes for a heavier, more muscled carcase that retains the qualities inherent in Shetland meat.
Is Shetland lamb seasonal?
Our 'island' lamb is available year-round. Our 'hill' lamb and 'seaweed' lamb is an exclusive product available from early September through December.
Is Shetland lamb protected like say 'Parma Ham'?
Yes. Shetland lamb must be born, reared and finished in the Shetland Islands. The mechanism which governs this is the European Commission PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) label. Shetland lamb produced elsewhere is not a true product as there is a key component missing - the natural, varied grazings of the Shetland Islands themselves.
Shetland - surely it's far too wet & windy there to produce meat?
On the contrary, Shetland's environment and oceanic weather conditions are ideal for sheep rearing and are what makes our meat truly special. For centuries Shetlanders have raised Shetland sheep on a natural mixed diet - heather from the remote hill pastures, non-fertilised grass from lowland areas and seaweed from the islands rugged coastline.
Shetland is very remote - is it not difficult to get meat transported?
We are remote - 100 miles north of the Scottish mainland - but we have excellent nightly ferry links with the mainland with chilled distribution links all through the United Kingdom and Europe.
Can you offer traceability?
Yes. We have full traceability of origin from the farm gate. We can provide you with exacts details on the origin of both lamb and beef. We can provide traceability with a difference - not just technical - if you would like traceability of origin on your menus for customer perusal, we would be delighted to furnish you with all the information you need.
I have heard that Shetland lamb has high levels of 'good fats' - is this true?
The fat composition of Shetland lamb is indeed of a different structure, with higher than normal beneficial fatty acids (CLA) and lower levels of damaging trans-fatty acids. A number of scientific studies have backed these findings.
What is CLA?
CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid) is a fatty acid found in the meat of sheep and cattle to varying degrees. Scientists are investigating the link between CLA and reduced risk of cancer and coronary heart disease. Conversely, the study revealed another positive feature of Shetland lamb: trans-fatty acids, which are considered to be detrimental to health, were lower than that reported elsewhere for sheep meats.
What kind of sheep and cattle does Shetland have?
The Shetland sheep and cattle are distinctive breeds native to the Shetland Isles. Both are Nordic in ancestry and have been resident in Shetland for thousands of years. The genetic make-up of Shetland sheep is almost identical to times when the Vikings were the people calling the Shetland Islands "home"
What are the carcase weights of Shetland lamb?
'Island' lamb typically 15-22kg; 'Hill' and 'Seaweed' lamb typically 9-13kg.