Te Mana – fatty, healthy and a joy for taste buds

Te Mana – fatty, healthy and a joy for taste buds


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Headwaters general manager, Ian Hercus, New Zealand, said Te Mana lambs were bred from Headwaters Omega rams, for their intramuscular fat and Omega-3, then finished on chicory pastures.

Headwaters general manager, Ian Hercus, New Zealand, said Te Mana lambs were bred from Headwaters Omega rams, for their intramuscular fat and Omega-3, then finished on chicory pastures.

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It is said to taste heavenly, but what went into creating the breed, brand and luxury Te Mana Lamb product?

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IT is said to taste heavenly, but what went into creating the breed, brand and luxury Te Mana Lamb product?

Select Genetics

THE Omega Lamb Project on farm manager, Aimee Charteris, NZ, said the program drew genetics from Romney, Perendale, Texel and Finn, putting animals through rigorous scientific evaluation for hill country production and consumer eating and health attributes.

“We screened hundreds of genetic lines for taste and fat characteristics. Because we developed the breed, the parentage of these lambs can be traced back to the first sires,” she said. 

“We have 17 farmers who produced 32,264 lambs in 2017 to the levels required for taste and goodness established by OLP. Infrastructure is in place to produce and measure the lambs to meet market demand.

“We select animals only at the very top end of natural variation in Omega-3 and polyunsaturated content for lamb. We then farm these in systems that enhance Omega-3 levels. We have now completed the process to make official “Source of Omega-3” on a pack claim for some cuts.”

The genetic characteristics around fat being in selection mean they thrive in the high country.

Breeding and Production

HEADWATERS general manager, Ian Hercus, NZ, said the OLP is built on an all-natural farming system that integrates unique genetics with specially developed agronomy.

The lambs are bred from Headwaters Omega rams for their intramuscular fat (more than three per cent before six months of age) and Omega-3 (more than 30 milligrams per 100 grams).

They go on to chicory pastures for up to six weeks immediately post weaning, helping create the highest Omega-3 levels of any red meat.

“The program incorporates traceability and origin principles. All lambs are tagged, individually recorded and traced to ensure exactly the right genetics, feeding, management and welfare,” Mr Hercus said. 

“The simplest way for an individual farmer in NZ to join the program is to become a supplier integrated with Headwaters.”

Ministry of Primary Industries director of investment program Justine Gilliland, NZ, said the program aimed to deliver premiums for NZ farmers and processors, raising the value and profitability of NZ’s lamb. 

“Many of the technology and systems developed will also apply to grassfed product.”

Unique taste, premium product

Alliance general manager marketing, Peter Russell, New Zealand, said Te Mana Lamb was sparking a renaissance in the global appetite for premium meat.

“The lamb doesn’t taste like any other lamb. Te Mana Lamb has a rich marbling of healthy Omega-3 fats. That’s where the spectacular taste resides. The result is an entirely new lamb taste experience,” he said.

“It doesn’t behave like regular lamb when cooking. The lamb meat contains ‘good fat’, thus essentially has less moisture. That means it doesn’t suffer shrinkage, retains its shape, flavour and texture and is more versatile.

“It boasts a delicacy and lightness in mouth and a mild aroma that no other lamb before it has been capable of. The product has outstanding succulence, tenderness and flavour.”

This discovery will benefit a new generation of foodies and entirely new consumer segments and markets that previously weren’t interested in lamb.

“Te Mana Lamb is produced to the highest standards of consistency and quality. It is only available in limited quantities and its supply is restricted to a number of exclusive restaurants,” he said.

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