Did you know that sheep are an environmental powerhouse? Raising sheep can positively impact the environment through sustainable fibre production and the management of healthy ecosystems.

Some sheep shed their wool naturally, but most need to be shorn—or have their wool trimmed—at least once a year to keep them healthy and allow them to live comfortably. Without shearing, sheep can incur several health problems, including overheating, decreased mobility, and creating an environment for mud, manure, and pathogen growth. Shearing benefits the health and welfare of the animal and, most importantly, does not harm them.

The resulting wool is a natural, renewable fibre that makes for a biodegradable and eco-friendly fabric option. It is breathable, muti-season, odour-reducing and even flame-resistant. Wool can also be used as household insulation, and improve air quality by absorbing and retaining pollutants.

Ontario sheep farmers Romy and Ryan Schill of Circle R Lamb and Revolution Wool Company in Wellington County recognize wool’s crucial role as a renewable resource in supporting environmental sustainability. The wool from their farm is processed and milled into yarn and batting here in Canada, creating a truly Canadian product. They are also members of the Upper Canada Fibreshed, a network that believes in the soil-to-soil fibre movement and promotes local, sustainable textile production.

Raising sheep has many environmental benefits in addition to wool production. Land that is unsuitable for growing crops can be used as pastures, where livestock eat grasses and other indigestible plant matter and convert it into nutrient and protein-rich food.

Matthew Fleguel and Liz Johnston of Prince Edward County were recognized in 2020 for their environmental improvements through pasture management on their farm, Waupoos Island Sheep, which utilizes rotational grazing. Rotational grazing involves dividing pastures into sections that are only grazed for a short time before the sheep are moved to another section; this allows grasses in grazed areas to rest and regrow for a more extended period.

The Waupoos Island pastures are scouted regularly to ensure the speed of the rotation is matched to regrowth. While grazing, the sheep’s hooves help mix manure with soil, adding nutrients and building organic matter. This also breaks up the soil, seeds it, and allows plant roots to go deeper—all without the need for mechanical tilling or ploughing. Pastured grasslands are essential ecosystems for many wildlife and plant species, as well as for carbon capture.

Ontario Sheep Farmers have taken a step forward in mitigating climate change by joining the Farmers for Climate Solutions, a national alliance of farmer organizations and supporters who believe that agriculture must be part of the solution to climate change.

Ontario’s sheep farmers have a great story to share about environmental sustainability and their commitment to the land, their animals, and producing high-quality food and fibre.

To find wool and wool products, visit the Ontario Wool Map: ontariosheep.org/wool-map

BBQ Ontario Leg of Lamb

Lamb doesn’t have to be reserved for special occasions!

Preparation time: 10 min | Cook time: 1 hour | Makes: 8 Servings

Ingredients

  • 1 leg of Ontario Fresh Premium Lamb butterflied*, 4-5lb.
  • 1 tbsp grated orange rind
  • ½ cup orange juice
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp grated ginger root or 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp dried thyme leaves
  • 2 tsp peppercorns (to top)

*NOTE: Butterflied leg of lamb – Remove the bone and spread flat. Cooks quickly and slices easily.

Directions

  • Combine orange rind and juice, wine, soy sauce, ginger root, thyme, and pepper. Pour over Ontario lamb in large shallow glass or enamel pan. Cover and refrigerate overnight, turning occasionally.
  • Drain lamb, reserving marinade. Barbecue on lightly greased grill at medium heat. Turn lamb occasionally, basting with reserved marinade. Cook for about 1 hour or until well-browned but still pink in the centre. Slice thinly and serve immediately.

Did you know?

  • Lamb meat is a good source of iron and vitamins and has protein that is rich in essential amino acids, and deserves a spot on your table any night.
  • It is particularly rich in vitamin B-12 and in niacin, zinc, and iron. Just 3 oz of cooked lamb, with any excess fat removed, provides the average person with 48% of their daily protein requirements, 30% for zinc, 10% for iron, 37% for vitamin B-12 and 27% for niacin.
  • A good quality lamb will have a nice fat finish, which not only adds flavour to the lean meat but can also be—in the right amount—a healthy part of a balanced diet. Only one-third of the fat in lamb is saturated, the rest is mono or polyunsaturated, the “good” fat in one’s diet. The majority of the fat is on the edges of the meat, which means that the excess fat is easily trimmed off, leading to fewer calories!

With barbeque season right around the corner, it’s the perfect time to shake things up!

Looking to Buy Fresh Premium Ontario Lamb? Try using our lamb locator tool at lambrecipes.ca

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Ontario Sheep Farmers OSF - Sheep can help mitigate climate change

For more than 30 years Ontario Sheep Farmers has been an advocate and unified voice for the Ontario’s 3,000 sheep farmers, representing the sheep, lamb and wool industries.

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