The Match Maker

The Match Maker

AKA Nature’s Helper

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"I work hand-in-hand with Mother Nature to nurture the best possible breed of lamb."
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The Match Maker
Working hand-in-hand with Mother Nature to nurture the best possible breed of lamb.

There’s a twinkle in the Match Maker’s eye. One that conveys obvious excitement, even when he isn’t talking about his work. We’re standing in his wool shed. Long wooden beams overhead and a labyrinth of timber alleys all around. “This is an incredible journey for me. It has been right from the start. I’ve always wanted to do more with lamb and bring something new and different to the New Zealand market.”

“This all started with us trying to breed a sheep that could thrive in the unforgiving alpine hillsides of the South Island. But it’s become so much more.” His eyes sparkle once again. It’s undeniable that he and everyone at Lumina has come a long way since 2007. And you get the sense that although the journey has been a rewarding one, it hasn’t exactly been easy. Creating a breed of sheep that produces naturally healthy, consistently excellent meat and also thrives in these surroundings, didn’t happen by accident. It took 15 years of research, development and analysis for the Match Maker and his team to achieve the breakthrough they were looking for: a new breed of lamb. One that offers finer intramuscular micro-marbling, as well as exceptional texture, tenderness and versatility on the plate.

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Guided by genetic experts, four separate breeds were selected for their specific attributes to produce a sheep that’s high in volume, hardy, prolific and muscular.

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The data collection and testing regime we’ve perfected for Lumina guarantees the quality of Lumina sheep today and for the future.

Tested to perfection.

“To get an optimal breed, you need to know what you’re looking for,” the Match Maker explains. Guided by genetic experts, four separate breeds were selected for their specific attributes to produce a sheep that’s best suited for life in the New Zealand high country. Every year, the rams are rigorously assessed and ranked, with only the top 1% making the grade to continue the line as a Lumina ram. It’s only when this most exclusive standard of ram is paired with a ewe of similar pedigree that you can begin to expect something special.

The Match Maker laughs when we suggest that getting a job as a Lumina sheep is like making it through NASA’s astronaut programme. “Well, we’re not putting lambs on the moon, but we’re definitely very picky”. That feels like an understatement. Because the assessment never stops.

Spreadsheets and graphs appear on his laptop screen. You don’t expect to be talking data in a woolshed at the top of a windy hill in the South Island. But then there’s nothing expected about what the Lumina team does here. The Match Maker points to a column of numbers. He frowns as he explains their significance. “The data collection and testing regime we’ve perfected guarantees the quality of Lumina sheep today and for the future. Every sheep and lamb is electronically tagged, providing essential breeding information, like growth rates and health analysis.” The amount of data is overwhelming, but not entirely surprising. Regular CT scanning allows detailed genetic information on muscularity and fat levels. And, each ram lamb is tested for proof of lineage, keeping the breed completely pure.

"This all started with us trying to breed a sheep that could thrive in the unforgiving Alpine hillsides of the South Island. But it’s become so much more."

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A lamb that is distinct from everything that has come before.

Expertise from every angle.

The door to the woolshed closes and we walk back into the field. This is the Match Maker’s true place of work. The rough hills around us may be stunning to look at, but they’re a challenging environment for most breeds of sheep. But Lumina, the Match Maker is happy to tell us, is made of sterner stuff.

As we walk the narrow path back to the farmhouse, we talk about that spark that started the Lumina journey. “The fashion was for lean meat, but the experts knew that you needed fat in the meat not only for it to taste good, but to provide health benefits for the consumer and the sheep themselves.” Why do the sheep need fat? “Well, it’s essential through harsh winters, when food is scarce and at lambing.”

That’s when 15 years of research and development pays off. It gives you the right genetic blend to produce meat that’s high in Omega 3 and intramuscular fat, vital nutrients in a healthy diet. But as the Match Maker makes clear, “breeding is just one side of the equation. What the lamb eat hugely affects the taste, texture and consistency of the product.” It’s also clear how the best genetics and the blend of 220 days grazing on nutrient-rich alpine grass, followed by an exclusive diet of specially cultivated chicory herb for the final 35 days has amplified Lumina lamb to the next level. The results? A lamb that is distinct from everything that has come before.

We’ve reached the farmhouse now. The Match Maker turns to us, a thoughtful expression on his face. “We knew we had to find something different for the future. It’s what keeps us going. It’s exciting to keep evolving and improving.” He holds out a hand for us to shake, keen to get back to work. And as we say our goodbyes, I can’t help noticing that the twinkle in his eye hasn’t faded all afternoon. A sure sign that this isn’t a job for him. It’s his life’s work.

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The rough hills around us may be stunning to look at, but they’re a challenging environment for most breeds of sheep

The Lumina Way
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The Match Maker
All animals RFID tagged for tracking and to ensure supply chain integrity.
All rams regularly health checked.
All elite rams progeny proven to ensure sustainable and healthy ewe flocks.
All rams CT scanned for measuring muscularity and intramuscular fat.
DNA profiling of rams for proof of pedigree.
Next

The Shepherd

AKA The Lamb Whisperer

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“I make sure our lambs and ewes have everything they need to thrive. I help keep them happy and healthy.”