In 1982, a group of experienced Pictou County sheep farmers formed Northumberland Lamb Marketing Co-op Limited, commonly known as NorthumberLamb; arguably the most successful lamb marketing co-operative in the country. They hoped to develop a single producer controlled marketing agency for all lambs produced in the region. They knew if the province was going to have a successful sheep industry, a better marketing system was required.
In 1980 and 1981, a number of experiments took place such as working with the Halifax Farmers’ Market and shipping on a regular basis to Sobey’s. These experiments were followed by establishing the co-operative.
Under the new co-op, retail outlets got the freshest possible lamb, a uniform carcass of high quality, a guaranteed weekly supply, and a long marketing season which stretched from May through February. For his part, the farmer got information on weights, carcass dressing percentage, a price that was known in advance, an equal opportunity to ship his lambs, and an opportunity to plan ahead.
The first official meeting of NorthumberLamb was held on April 13, 1982. There were 7 members and 5 were present for this meeting. The first President was Mel Loughead, Vice President was David Weber, Secretary was Cathleen Kneen, Market Organizer and Treasurer was Brewster Kneen. Shortly after this meeting, Michael Isenor was hired as Marketing Manager. In the first week, 7 lambs were sold; 12 the next week. By September 1145 lambs had been sold; about 85 per week.
Today, the Co-op is going strong, buying lambs from dozens of producers and supplying lamb 12 months a year to retailers and some of the best restaurants in our province. Along with managing the Brookside Abattoir where the lambs are received and processed, our lamb marketing co-op is still managed by Michael Isenor today.
The operation is overseen by a Board of Directors, each with many years of lamb production and business experience behind them. Since 1982, the co-operation and commitment from our manager, employees, producers and directors has allowed this co operative to persevere and grow.
Federal Inspection Initiative
NorthumberLamb lamb is processed by Brookside Abattoir.
NorthumberLamb is co-located with the Brookside Abattoir in Bible Hill, Nova Scotia. Brookside Abattoir is a federally inspected facility.
Brookside Abattoir has been a federal plant since July 2015.
Board of Directors
Board of Directors
Marie Ouimet, Doug White, Fred Hamilton (President), Ryk terBeek (Vice-President), Graham Reid (Treasurer), Michael Isenor (Secretary and Manager); Missing: Rhonda McCarron