With increasing demand for artisan, handcrafted premium food, the popularity of dry aged beef in foodservice venues continues to rise. Yet despite its similar physical properties, dry aged lamb has been largely unexplored.
Haddon Rig is a 62,000-acre property near Warren in Central West NSW, privately owned by the Falkiner family for over 100 years. Traditionally a stud Merino ram and wool producing operation, the business is now looking to take advantage of the sheepmeat market, and value-adding including dry-aged lamb.
General Manager Charlie Blomfield said they started dry ageing lamb as a point of difference – working directly with chefs and foodservice to develop a product that they wanted.
“Customer-driven demand is key and so we’ve been working with chefs directly to try and create something they want. We were already producing a delicious product but found dry ageing improved the flavour profile and tenderness, especially with hogget and mutton,” Charlie said.
“Initially, we dry aged some lamb for five weeks with Victor Churchill then hosted an event at Porteno with 50 chefs to try it. We put it up against some of our fresh lamb and they all preferred the dry aged. That’s when we thought we were on to something and we’ve been learning ever since.”
“We’ve also adopted a lot of new technologies like eye muscle and fat depth testing to identify those really good animals that end up with a great carcase. We use those genetics to really push our flock along so that our lambs provide a lot of good quality meat and good fat cover,” Livestock Manager, Andy Maclean said.
In the midst of one of the worst droughts in 135 years of “Haddon Rig’s” history, the ability to consistently supply product despite seasonal conditions is a key part of the Haddon Rig supply chain.
“We developed some centre pivot irrigation at Haddon Rig in recent years to drought-proof our livestock business. Traditionally we’ve relied on pasture but during the dry years, the irrigation allows us to grow crop fodder to feed the sheep and keep our production system going no matter what.”