Diepholzer moorschnucke (Diepholz lamb)

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Diepholzer moorschnucke

g.U. Diepholzer moorschnucke is breed of German sheep whose meat is typically tender, with a gamey flavour. The sheep range across the open moorland which gives the meat a very good colour and a solid consistency. The variety of moorland grasses on which the sheep feed provides for a very good build-up of double unsaturated fatty acids. (It is known that these cannot be produced by the body but are taken up in food.) The meat has a high degree of characteristic flavour and good colour stability.

The geographical area is the "Diepholzer Moomiederang" nature reserve essentially covers the wetlands in the Landkreise of Diepholz and Nienburg (Weser). This is a wetland of international significance as defined in the 1971 Ramsar Convention. The landscape is typically flat and characterised by moors and wetlands with heathland, moor grasses, herbs and birch trees. The moorland sheep is mentioned in early documents as being part of the fauna typical of the region. In the last century all such sheep were generally known in northern Germany as 'Heidschnucke", whether white or grey, homed or hornless.

In the Diepholz-Sulmgen area the animals'main pastureland was moor-or heathland so even at the turn of the century they were known as "Möorschnucke" (moorland sheep) there. The name "Moorschnucke" is found at the beginning of the century in the deaconry of Freistatt, an area in the Wietingsmoor between Sulingen and Diepholz. There were several herds there at that time. The official breed name of "weiße hornlose Moorschnucke" is not mentioned until later. The breed covered the Landkreise of Rotenburg, Nienburg and Diepholz. The breed is threatened with extinction and is recognised as falling under Regulation (EEC) No 2078/92 with regard tó the conservation of genetic diversity in livestock breeding. Three breeding farms are currently the major factor in conserving the breed - there were only 40 animals left in herd registers in 1974.

Moorland sheep have for years been kept by sheep farmers on holdings of varying size in or on the edge of the moors. They were herded and found food on uncultivated moor- and heathland. The designation "Diepholzer Moorschnucke" applies to moorland sheep kept within the Diepholzer Moomiederung nature reserve, which covers the wetlands in the Landkreise of Diepholz and Nienburg (Weser). Parts of this reserve are defined in the 1976 Ramsar Convention. Diepholzer moorland sheep provide a major contribution to preserving the character of the reserve in several herds and over a wide area. The Diepholzer moorland sheep has a strong natural urge to wander which is taken into account in its herding.

Bratwürst a type of sausage, etc. using raw minced meat is produced from Heidshriucke sheep The Diepholzbr moorland sheep eat heather, bent, cotton grass, sedge and various herbs and grasses; also pine, birch, frángula and other woody plants. By means of selective herding the sheep are pastured mainly on land on which no mineral fertiliser or plant protection product has been applied. Intensive fattening is not worthwhile and is not done, although in winter their feed is supplemented with feed produced on the farm. The variety of feed available to the sheep on the moorland accounts for the particular richness of supply of double unsaturated fatty acids. This breed of sheep has the best possible fàt:meat ratio as a result of its extensive herding and range of movement. There is scarcely any external fat cover, the proportion of intramuscular fat is good, as are the colour and consistency of the meat.

Reference: 282 The European Commission