TRAVELLERS in the northern pastoral areas of the state have given the thumbs up to a new brand, the Sustainable Sausage, offering lamb snags seasoned with Lake Eyre salt.
Marree pastoralist Ellen Litchfield says it is a chance for her family's Litchfield Pastoral Company to promote their sustainable agriculture principles and also value-add a small portion of their flock.
They have already sold out of their first batch, which has been on the menu at the Marree Hotel, Hawker cafe Flinders Food Company and Leigh Creek Restaurant.
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Sausages from another four lambs will be available in the next week.
Dr Litchfield, with her brother-in-law and sister Tom and Sarah Palmer, who are based in Saudi Arabia, and Michael Palmer from the United Kingdom are working on an online farmers market, Farm Foragers. The Sustainable Sausage will be the first product.
The website will enable them to market packs of their sausages further afield, including to customers in Adelaide.
Many beef and lamb brands target primal cuts but Dr Litchfield says they chose sausages to enable them to turn off lambs year round from Wilpoorina, Mundowdna and Mount Lyndhurst stations , even in highly variable seasons.
Successful businesses around the world are always trying new ideas, even though a lot may not eventuate, some of them will.
In February, Wilpoorina had 55 millimetres of rainfall - the biggest rain in three years - but with the prolonged drought they have destocked to between 4000 and 5000 Australian White and White Dorper sheep - about a third of their optimal stocking rate. The cattle herd is also well down.
"The challenge agriculture faces is to produce a consistent product out of a natural environment with climate variability," she said.
"I love sausages and we are using the whole animal so there is no waste - the quality cuts and the shanks all go in together, which gives a more consistent flavour and texture."
The lambs are delivered to Jamestown Meat Service and the carcases are made into sausages with natural casings by hand and then hung for a few days to develop the flavour profile
Dr Litchfield says the family's move into Australian Whites in 2016 has also given them confidence in the meat quality of their flock.
"They (Australian Whites) have had some good press as the Wagyu of the sheep world with their high fat content," she said.
Dr Litchfield expects the majority of their lambs to still head south to processors but says her recent Nuffield scholarship travels have highlighted the importance of challenging traditional selling methods.
"Successful businesses around the world are always trying new ideas, even though a lot may not eventuate, some of them will," she said.
NEW BRAND SEEKS SUSTAINABLE FUTURE
THE Sustainable Sausage is a great opportunity to explain to consumers how their purchases can contribute to sustainable agriculture, according to Ellen Litchfield.
"Climate change has put at the forefront of people's mind that they want to be making purchasing decisions that help the environment and they are willing to pay a bit more for that," she said.
Dr Litchfield hopes the new brand is a chance to tell consumers about their organic production system and the family's custodianship of land in the area since the 1950s.
"Transparency breeds trust," she said.
"We want people in Adelaide to be as proud as those living up here in the pastoral areas of how we manage our livestock and the environment," she said.
And knowing if you can't "measure it you can't manage it", Litchfield Pastoral Company have enlisted InStep to calculate the carbon footprint on their three stations across a 12 month period.
Dr Litchfield says the New Zealand company is confident the figure will be very low compared with businesses in other sectors, even without including the vegetation as a carbon sink.
"Two of our properties are completely off grid, so mainly solar, so we have to measure how much diesel/petroleum/oil and gas we purchase for a year. The third property is on mains electricity so we are measuring our kilowatt hour per year usage as well," she said.
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