Lambing Live: I'd love to do it all again

Tuesday 16 March 2010, 17:22

Kate Humble Kate Humble Presenter

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It's now been four days since the end of Lambing Live and I'm in the process of catching up on some sleep. Lambing is exhausting and the poor Beavans are still at it. I spoke to Kate earlier and they had 27 born over night on Sunday - the biggest total yet.

The programmes were very well received and we were all delighted by how interested the viewers were in all aspects of sheep farming. Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a comment on my previous blog on here - 209 and counting(!) - and, before I get some sleep, I thought it'd be nice to take up some of the main talking points. So glad you enjoyed the programmes!

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Vijay, Michael Galvan, Hoppergrass, Martin Overdi and several others raised the dilemma of showing the slaughter of the animals. I think from the date stamps these comments were written before the last show. It was during that show that we did address the issue of the abattoir and I learned from Jim how to assess whether an animal was ready for slaughter and took them to the abattoir.

Although we didn't show the lambs being slaughtered, I did spend a morning in an abattoir to see exactly how it was done, which I talked about on that final show. You are absolutely right though Vijay, it is extremely important not to just dwell on 'cute' lambs.

The Beavans are not raising fields full of pets. They are in the sheep business to produce meat and I hope the series was able to give a full and proper picture of the enormous amount of work and skill that is involved to raise sheep in a way that gives them an excellent quality of life which, in turn, results in the consumer getting excellent quality meat. Thank you again for taking the time to write in.

Plenty of you got involved in debating vegetarianism after watching the show and, in the comments, Helen Kellett asked how I felt after helping the lambs into the world and then settling down to a plate of lamb, and if it made me feel like I wanted to be a vegetarian.

I understand that for vegetarians like Helen and others spending so much time and energy raising an animal in the best way possible, only to eat it, is a very difficult concept to grasp. I also totally respect the choice you've made.

I'm not a vegetarian, but I am extremely concerned about the provenance of the meat I eat - where it has come from and how it has been reared. It is very easy for all of us to be totally disconnected with the production of the food we buy because society has moved so far away from producing its own food and relies so much now on supermarkets, where everything is wrapped in plastic or has had the mud washed off.

It may seem odd but having seen every aspect of the way lamb is produced, from birth to slaughter, I feel much more comfortable about eating it. The Beavan family are good, decent people working incredibly hard to make sure their animals have the best life in order to produce really good meat in the end.

Bottle feeding

Farmers like them deserve to make a living, deserve to have a market for their produce and as a meat eater I am extremely happy to be able to support people like them. But I promise not to try and convert you!

Azureblue wanted to know how little Humble is doing. I spoke to Adam on Saturday and Humble is now happily settled at Adam's farm with some friendly goats for company. She loves turnips and apparently crowds of people turned up to see her over the weekend. She's become a bit of a star.

Finally Emsy asked if we'll be doing anything similar in the future and I would love to do something like this again. I can't tell you how much I learned over the six months I worked with the Beavans, and what a privilege that was.

We just need to come up with another idea and persuade the big bosses! Can I tell them you want another series? That might swing it!

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    Comment number 1.

    Kate Humble wrote: "It may seem odd but having seen every aspect of the way lamb is produced, from birth to slaughter, I feel much more comfortable about eating it."

    Actually, Kate, I don't think it strange at all - it is the reporting of mistreatment of animals, in the food production chain, which has caused me to question my carnivorousness in the past. Some documentaries I have seen had me on the verge of becoming veggie, which I still think I should probably be given the environmental impact of raising animals for food. My problem is I like food, and meat, in particular.

    As with you seeing animals treated with respect is quite reassuring, so thanks for the programmes.

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    Comment number 2.

    I'm not so naive as to think that all meat producers in the UK are as conscientious and ethical as the Beavan family is. As an American who hails from a very big beef state (Kansas) I am all too familiar with factory farms, and though there are several small producers there who run their farms in the same exemplary manner as the Beavans, they are, sadly, few and far between. It's good to see a trend in the UK toward specific knowledge of where food _really_ comes from, and it is heartening to see these good people cast in such a deservedly favorable light.

    As someone who has witnessed first-hand the entire process from breeding to slaughtering, I commend you all on the thorough and sensitive way you presented a side of life that is simultaneously endearing and not for the squeamish. Thank you and the entire production team for showing us all how meat production can and should be done, be they lambs, cattle, hogs or what have you. I hadn't ever considered that a series, be it live or taped, on such a subject would make for such engaging and fascinating television but I was quite eager to tune in every night. It was nice to watch reality TV that actually appealed to the better angels in our nature rather than our baser instincts.

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    Comment number 3.

    It was fascinating and since the programme I have been finding out a lot more of these fellows (the sheep) that are all around me not to mention the lambs. But why have I not taken more notice of them before. As one passes a field of sheep until the programme, I have to admit that I had no idea of the vast number of different types all with there own specific differences. So far I have found over eighty different strains in this country and a staggering 4000 odd throughout the world as we know it yet although they all behave in a similar fashion to those of of Mr and Mrs Beavan their locations and feedstuffs are very different. As a lad my bedroom window looked out over the Skirrid and the Holy Mountain in Abergavenny so I guess I should have known a lot more. A really great programme with layed back, Mr Beavan showing his art along with his knowledgeable wife and of course you.

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    Comment number 4.

    Thoroughly enjoyed Lambing Live. What a wonderful family the Beavans were - decent and caring about their livestock. I am 57 and clearly recall local butcher displaying meat whole in shop windows so as kids we knew where our lamb etc came from - no shock as it seems to be to kids raised on burgers and turkey twizzlers etc. Lambing Live must have helped educate younger people about where their meat comes from. Personally i woudl not want to see animals slaughtered but i can see there may be good reasons to do so. Well done on a great show.

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    Comment number 5.

    We only caught up with the last of your programmes last night - what an amazing series. Well done you and the Beavans and everyone involved.


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