We have had the absolute joy of working with a few families over the last 2 years with butchering lamb on the farm Halal. It's been a big learning process for us, but just like our chickens, these lambs never have the stressful ride to the processor. They get to stay on the farm and become food and go home with a family that really appreciates them.
Now, I am not well-studied on Islam. But I am a fan of their upcoming holiday, Eid al-Adha, which is also known as the Sacrifice Feast. Apparently our Muslim friends have been talking to each other and we have an unprecedented number of requests for Halal slaughter for Eid, coming up in Mid-September. One of the things I enjoy about this holiday, is that they are required to slaughter a lamb. The Halal part means that a Muslim has to kill the animal and say prayers while he does this. The animal must be calm, must be facing Mecca, and they are killed quickly and swiftly. And we, being non-Muslims, are allowed to be present. It's important to me to be with animals, and be able, in my own way, to show them my love and appreciation before they go.
There are a few other things that, depending on interpretation, are important for Eid or Halal slaughter. Typically, they want lambs that are older, 1-2 years old, and they prefer intact males. This has been a challenge for us, as we only usually have 1 intact male. And due to how aggressive they can get, we don't usually keep them after 12 months. We want our farm to be a safe place for us and our daughter.
So we've had to make a few adjustments in order to have lambs available for Halal slaughter. First, if you know me, you know I love spreadsheets and staying organized. SO, I created a new form for folks to request custom lamb processing - whether that be on-farm Halal, or special cut requests at the processor.
Second, we are now keeping more intact males, and I suspect we might not band any more, ever,so that we have options for our Muslim friends who require this.
Third, I think this is finally the final nail in the coffin for us raising beef. By taking the mere one or two steers we sometimes raise OFF the pasture, I can increase my ewe flock by 4-5 heads, increasing my annual lamb yield by up to 8 more lambs per year. This will be important so that we can manage to have lambs born year-round, and have different sizes available to take to process and have on farm for Halal Slaughter. We are excited for this new foray into on-farm lamb processing, and have really enjoyed learning how to butcher lambs. We are looking forward to Eid and helping our Muslim friends celebrate as best as they can.