sheep

Discussion in 'Other Pets & Livestock' started by granny05, Jan 10, 2014.

  1. granny05

    granny05 Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 9, 2012
    [​IMG] I have started this about sheep. not just raising them , but for meat. I have heard everything about how to butcher them but , I have also heard so many opposing views. I have cleaned at least 3 deer a year for over 30 yrs. I have just started a small homestead to support and supply my family with healthier and self reliant foods. back to sheep. I have heard about a stinky, nasty lanolin taste to the meat if ( or something of that sort) unless u do something to the meat???? I have no idea of this. I have had lamb from a butcher a long time ago. does anyone have any ideas of what this is. I have never butchered a sheep before. any advice can be helpful to me. [​IMG]
     
  2. Darkwings

    Darkwings Out Of The Brooder

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    Hello there,
    Firstly, make sure you are butchering your animals at an appropriate age. The older lambs get, the stronger the "sheep" flavor. Make sure you're butchering them under a year old. Usually around 8 months is ideal. Secondly, make absolute sure that the wool does not touch the meat. Either skin them very carefully, if you are skilled enough, this isn't too difficult. Or have them sheared before hand, that way you can be a little less careful. It's also always helpful to have someone help you, that way they can help hold the hide away from the meat. I hope that helps.
     
  3. granny05

    granny05 Out Of The Brooder

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    thank u very much darkwings. these things I have never been told about . I thank u for the help. [​IMG]
     
  4. WallabyOfChaos

    WallabyOfChaos Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My Coop
    The basics of butchering are the same as for deer. If you have a walk-in cooler then you might want to hang the lamb for a week or so depending on how finished it is. As darkwings said, don't let the wool or hair touch the meat as it will impart off flavors - the same holds true for deer as well. If you are worried about gamey or "sheepy" flavors you might consider raising a breed of "hair" sheep. They are generally milder in flavor. Dorpers would be my choice.
     
  5. granny05

    granny05 Out Of The Brooder

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    thank u wallaby, your info along with the info from darkwings has given me the confidence to do the cleaning like I want. thanks so much.
     
  6. granny05

    granny05 Out Of The Brooder

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    and I have never heard of dorpers. and a milder flavor, I will check into that.. tx again. How old do u think would be the best age for the cull ? some say 6 months. I know at a year their meat is called mutton .
     
  7. WallabyOfChaos

    WallabyOfChaos Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 17, 2012
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    My Coop
    Well, technically they are still lambs until they loose their first pair of teeth (the "milk" teeth) which can happen between 9 months to 13 months of age, it just depends on the individual. I think I would shoot for a weight more than an age. A lamb will dress right around 50%, sometimes a little less and sometimes a little more. So think about what you would like the size of the cuts to be and how many pounds of meat will make it worth your effort to process and just go from there. You could easily take ewe lambs and wethers up to a year in age to maximize carcass size, but I would harvest intact ram lambs before they are 6 months old. We have heard from commercial buyers that the packing houses really don't want to take ram lambs over 6 months old because they are more difficult to skin. I don't know if the skinning process is just a little slower than they would like or if it is sure enough tough to get done, but that is what we have heard. On the plus side, an intact ram lamb has the power of his natural hormones working in his favor and is going to grow and gain more quickly than a ewe or wether lamb. So it is rather likely that a good quality ram lamb will get to a respectable processing size before he is 6 months old. What the animal eats will have as much to do with flavor as anything and unless you are finishing your lambs out on a consistent feed ration in a drylot you will likely find that spring lambs taste a bit different than fall or winter lambs.

    I just mentioned Dorpers because that is the breed of hair sheep that we have had the most positive experience with. They are very thick-made and are exclusively a meat breed bred to thrive in harsh, dry climates very similar to our's in the Texas panhandle. We have weaned higher percentage pasture-raised Dorper cross lambs that weigh 95 pounds at just 4 months of age, and we have purchased fullblood breeding rams that weigh nearly 200 lbs at just 1 year old. This is not the best breed to put on feed, but we have managed to get wethers on feed to gain just over a pound a day towards the end of their time on feed. The reason why hair lambs tend to have a more mild, less muttony flavor is because they do not grow wool and thus have less lanolin than their woolly counterparts. We have had several of our own lambs processed and the meat is similar to beef, but a little sweeter, much more finely textured, and in my opinion much better.

    There is a whole list of hair sheep breeds that each have their own little niche, so with a little research I bet you can find something that will fit right in to your situation. Folks to the east in Oklahoma, Arkansas, and other places where it rains seem to prefer Katahdins. I don't know where you are located, but here is a little reading about a several different hair sheep breeds:
    http://www.ansi.okstate.edu/breeds/sheep/hair.htm
    For some reason the Royal White (aka "Dorp-Croix") isn't on the hair sheep list, so here it is: http://www.ansi.okstate.edu/breeds/sheep/royalwhite/index.htm
    Dorpers, Katahdins, and Royal Whites seem to be the most popular, but it seems that St. Croixs are gaining in popularity.
     
  8. granny05

    granny05 Out Of The Brooder

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    [​IMG]wow, I had no idea that I knew so little about sheep. I will be checking all this out. I live in mid Michigan. and in the past 2 weeks we have had below 0 temps. my goats pigs ducks and rabbits have made it so far. sheep just seem to be the next best idea. I like raising my meat food in the fall and winter, except for this winter. I have only 5 acres. so I figure sheep might be good for my canning and freezing. thanks again. and so much to learn. granny(nena)
     
  9. granny05

    granny05 Out Of The Brooder

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    thanks for the info and the sites to check out. I really want to do this right....[​IMG]
     

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