Unique saltbush lambs in hot demand worldwide

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By Ian Williams

Bultarra Australian Saltbush Lamb is a livestock producer with lofty ambitions – and to succeed that entails sustainable growth and never becoming too big.

It’s an approach that has seen the South Australian company knock back multiple offers for high volume production during its brief history.

Instead the focus is on delivering the highest quality dorper lambs, livestock that grazes on saltbush and grass in the marginal arid pastures of the state’s north.

The conditions are tough – the South African breed thrives in them – but the result is a unique tasting meat that is in great demand around the world from the best restaurants in Dubai to high-end retail outlets in Japan.

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“Our provenance is really important to us, being able to demonstrate an authentic paddock to plate story,” says operations manager Greg Bailey. “We’re not trying to be the biggest lamb producer in SA, we’ll never be that, but we want to provide a consistent, high quality bush-hardened lamb.”

Fifth-generation pastoralist Jamie McTaggart launched Saltbush White Dorper Stud in 1997 and Saltbush Livestock three years later. It wasn’t until 2008 that he began selling his branded Bultarra Australian Saltbush Lamb to premium butchers in Adelaide.

The first trailer load consisted of just 20 lambs. Today about 20,000 lambs a year go to the Adelaide butcher trade while a similar quantity is processed and packaged for export markets in Asia, the Middle East, US and Canada.

Most of that growth has been in the past four years with annual turnover jumping from $1 million to nearly $10 million.

“It’s taken a while to get there but we’ve finally reached the stage where the wheels have stopped spinning and we’re starting to move forward. Business has really started to take off,” says Greg.

The dorper lambs are grown at the company’s two stations north-east of Port Augusta and Quorn and are also sourced from other local producers.

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Bultarra Australian Saltbush Lamb – a unique location

Lambs grown on its own stations are the only certified organic saltbush lamb in South Australia and attract a premium price.

Greg says the support of local butchers has been critical.

“South Australian butchers have believed in us over a long period and that loyalty has been really important,” he says.

Until now the domestic market has been confined to South Australia but this is about to change with the first sales to butchers in Melbourne and Brisbane.

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