When Henty’s Kate and Graham Klemke decided to venture into direct selling the last thing they wanted to do was compete against their local butcher.
Instead, through connections with their daughter Laura in Sydney’s north west, they sold a lamb to Cafe Cornerstone in Windsor.
From that one lamb in September, Henty Lamb now sells direct to Sydney food savvy customers.
“A lot of the buyers want to know where their food comes from and buy direct from farmers, and Laura’s in an area where that lifestyle is growing,” Mr Klemke said.
“We know a guy with a cafe up there and he was after lamb, once he started getting lamb off us he kept getting it and then people who came into his shop asked him about Henty Lamb and it started like that. It was all word of mouth.”
The Klemkes run 1600 Merino and Bond ewes at Fairview, Henty, and cross them with Dorest rams to produce lambs predominantly bound for Wagga sales.
Mr Klemke grows feed barley and cuts hay to supplement his feed and will soon establish a small on-farm feedlot and buy scales to help with consistency.
“I want to sell them at a certain weight so the consumer knows exactly how much meat they’re getting,” he said.
“If you’ve got them on scales you know when they hit the target weight. Anything that gets too heavy I’ll take to Wagga.”
He said the direct-to-consumer marketing brought its challenges, such as maintaining a steady and consistent supply.
The operation is evolving to year-round lambing. Mr Klemke also said Sydney butchers were after leaner product, while live sale buyers at places such as Wagga were after fatter lamb.
Mr Klemke transports his stock to Sydney and hoped to establish a regular run, processing 50 lambs a month.
He oversees the butchering, packs the meat, and often joins marketing manager Laura delivering orders.
“Graham loves going to deliver the meat boxes, and meeting the customers,” Mrs Klemke said, “it is rare for most of them to actually meet and talk with the farmer about the food they buy and eat.”
Finding new markets and farm revenue streams will be the focus of a series of Regional Development Australia – Murray and Food Innovation Australia Limited workshops which begin at Culcairn on June 28 and conclude on July 26.
Other sessions will be held at Corryong (July 25, August 15), Corowa (July 27, August 16), Deniliquin (July 28, August 17), Barham (July 31, August 22) and Wentworth (August 1, 23).
“It’s harder around here. You’ve got to go for the Sydney people, find the market,” Mr Klemke said.
“If my butcher had to leave town because of me it would be terrible, so I refuse to sell any lamb directly in here … I’m happy with everyone making money.”