AFTER moving from a station spanning tens of thousands of hectares, Belinda and Sean Chipman knew they had to think outside of the box to make the most of their new, much smaller, acreage on the Fleurieu Peninsula.
While paddock-to-plate offerings are not uncommon on the Fleurieu, the Chipmans opted for lamb over the already prevalent beef businesses, bringing back Dorper ewes from the western NSW pastoral country in 2018 and topping up the flock with ewes brought from Strathalbyn.
While the Dorpers took a while to acclimatise to the Wattle Flat property they are now flourishing, much like the Paddock to Plate - Seabel Pastoral brand which has already attracted a strong customer base following investment into a new website and renewed focus on social media promotion last year.
The enterprise is staunchly local - their lamb and hogget offerings are marketed to local buyers, slaughtered at the Kangarilla abattoir, cut up and cryovaced at Indulgent Meats, Port Elliot, then stored and delivered by the Chipmans.
"The paddock to plate idea came about because we knew that we couldn't run a lot of stock on a limited acreage, so we needed to value-add," Mrs Chipman said.
The Dorpers are sent to Kangarilla at nine to 12 months old as lamb or hogget, usually in a run of about 20 head a month.
The Chipmans have also been offering goat and experienced great demand, but plan on veering towards beef, possibly Square Meaters, for ease of management.
Ease of management is vital for the family - Mr Chipman is often busy working off farm in agricultural workplace health and safety - which is why shedding Dorpers are a suitable option.
Belinda said they have been reliable performers, whether it be the dry conditions of western NSW or the higher rainfall coastal country of the Fleurieu Peninsula.
"They're a hardy breed and we have found them a bit easier to manage than Merinos," she said.
"Over the years we know that what they eat changes the flavour, which is why we only slaughter in the drier months when they are naturally grazing dry feed in the paddock, supplemented by good quality hay.
"If any stock are not ready for whatever reason as a lamb or hogget, we've got another market in mince and sausages for those older sheep rather than taking whatever price we can get at the abattoir."
The Chipmans have strengthened their local flavour by working with customers and the local butcher to hone in on what the best product offering is.
"Initially we were pushing for heavyweight lambs, but we found they were taking a long time to finish off here," Mrs Chipman said.
"Our average customers don't necessarily want a dressed weight of 30 plus kilograms. We're now selling dressed weights between 15 and 22kg. It's a smaller cut for people, but it suits our customers.
"At our butchers' suggestion, we package everything for two people, but sides and full lambs or hoggets are also available for families."
They do keep some lamb and hogget as frozen product for sale during the winter period, but primarily promote it as a spring/summer buy.
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