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They feed their sheep hydroponic fodder and serve all the meat in their own restaurant


Cabaña La Armonía is revolutionizing its production scheme with the inclusion of hydroponics and will soon hit the market with its vacuum-packed cuts.

Fifteen years ago, when he was fifty, Gabriel Montiel decided to return to his origins and bought 50 hectares in the town of San José, in Misiones, to have somewhere to go on weekends.

He had grown up in the countryside but had made his life in the city and now they threw the green and red of the missionary land at him.

And while he was there, in that little field he began to raise sheep with two friends and associates.

Over time they decided to rent another 300 hectares and today at Cabaña La Armonía they have

a herd of 1,000 Hampshire Down sheep, a sausage and hamburger factory, a restaurant specializing in ovine meat and a surface area for hydroponic fodder cultivation

that promises to revolutionize the numbers of the company.

Montiel explains that the productive cycle of sheep begins in October with the service season.

The first 60 days are carried out with a ram at the foot and the last 30 without a ram, to allow time for the formation of fetuses.

Then ultrasound scans are done, the pregnant ewes are separated and the rest are synchronized their cycles and they are tried to serve again.

Each ewe is given three chances a year, the breeding season stretches to April, and

the pregnancy rate reaches 85 percent


The gestation phase lasts five months and

the weaning of the rams is done 60-90 days after delivery


The weaning rate is 70-75 percent, that is, there is a loss of 10-12 percent, one of the points on which they are working to improve.

They also seek to shorten the times to wean earlier, and for that they know that

nutrition is key


“We want to work differently with the lamb.

For that, hydroponics can help us a lot”, affirms Montiel.

recent innovation

Hydroponics is a recent innovation that promises to revolutionize the entire productive scheme and company numbers.

Just a couple of months ago they installed two wooden sheds measuring 20 meters by two meters wide.

The floor on which the seeds are germinated is raised and from the center to the sides has a decline of five degrees, so that the water gradually drains and recirculates automatically.

There, without soil,

only with water and nutrients, they put 12 kilograms of corn seeds per square meter and after fifteen days they obtain fifty kilos of green matter.

per meter, they are plants about 13 centimeters high, with great palatability and nutritional value.

With this pilot production they are supplementing the diet of 250 heads of different categories, and the results are auspicious.

“It is all trial and error, you have to put it in and correct it.

In a space of fifty by fifty meters we will be able to produce food for 800 sheep throughout their entire cycle.

This does not stop anymore, the concept begins to change

”, says Montiel enthusiastically, and details that soon they will begin to do tests with alfalfa and oats in hydroponics.

“We are spoiled for life.

This generates an interesting cost reduction, especially with the water crisis”, he says.

With corn in hydroponics, in fifteen days they obtain 50 kilos of green matter per square meter.

"The Milanese is delicious"

Once weaned, all the females are destined to replace and expand the herd of bellies while the males are fattened to go to slaughter with an average of 35 kilos of live weight.

The termination lasts between 90 and 120 days

and is done with grazing -the dominant species in the area is brizantha- and supplementation.

They slaughter about 600 heads per year and

absolutely all the meat comes back from the meat processing plant, which is eight kilometers from the field, to be prepared and sold at the Cabaña La Armonía restaurant,

located on the side of a hill with a privileged view of the missionary landscape.

They have a sausage and hamburger factory and a cold room with the capacity to stock up to 400 lambs, and they are setting up a cycle 2 industrial plant to start vacuum packaging and sell sheep cuts to the market.

Among the recipes that stand out in the restaurant are logically the hamburgers and chorizos of their own artisan preparation, but they do not stop there.

“Most people know the classic roast lamb.

At La Armonía we also serve pasta stuffed with lamb, the typical Brazilian feijoada with lamb, the lamb milanesa is a delight”, says Montiel.

And thinking about the insertion of lamb meat in Argentine homes, he remarks: "It is essential to make cut and packaged lamb available to consumers."

That's where they are.

The lamb on the cross, a true classic.

regional association

Six years ago, Montiel and his partners decided to expand their field of action and together with other missionary producers promoted the creation of a Rural Society for Small Ruminant Animals, which brings together sheep, goat, pig and horse producers from that province.

"We did it so as not to be in second place over bovines," acknowledges Montiel, a standard-bearer for sheep production and consumption of sheep meat.

The group of producers has specific farms and facilities for handling small animals, and holds four breeding auctions per year in which, in addition to showing their production, they

invite breeders from other provinces to incorporate new genetics and improve their herds


Gabriel Montiel (center) with his partners and a prize-winning breeder.

The result of this association was very positive:

six years ago there were 8,000 head of sheep in Misiones and today there are 21,000 head and about 740 producers


"Here most of the fields are small, less than 40 hectares, and the sheep is ideal for this type of field because it yields more than the cow,

you can have up to five sheep per hectare

," says the missionary breeder, and clarifies that everyone there uses meat breeds.

"Here the wool does not go because it stains a lot with the red earth."

Next Friday, February 17, in the park of the Cabaña La Armonía restaurant, the third night auction of the Rural Society will be held, where 180 heads of sheep (Hampshire Down, Dorper, Texel and Santa Inés), goats, and two equines.

“It is the opening of the year, the first animals that go to auction in Misiones.

We do it at night because of the temperature, so that it is more pleasant, and it is a real party”, invites Montiel.

Next Friday, February 17, the third night auction of La Armonía will take place.

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Source: clarin

All news articles on 2023-02-04

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