when is a lamb a lamb?

Discussion in 'Other Pets & Livestock' started by freerange freaks, Oct 21, 2008.

  1. freerange freaks

    freerange freaks Chillin' With My Peeps

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    At what age is a lamb still considered a lamb? When are they suposed to be butchered? There is a lady here who has ram lambs that were born in May for sale. Would this still be considered lamb or is it more mutton?

    Also, should a lamb be finished on grain? For how long?
     
  2. justusnak

    justusnak Flock Mistress

    I found this great website....lots of info...
    When the temperature only reaches 40° during the day and the pasture is no longer adequate feed, it is time to butcher. Sheep and goats should be nine months or under. Pigs should be just slightly jowly.
    http://www.backwoodshome.com/articles/geissal23.html
     
  3. Colored Egg Farmer

    Colored Egg Farmer Chicken overload

    Well lamb actually goes up to 1 year of age for both rams and ewes. After that they are called Yearlings
     
  4. Their Other Mother

    Their Other Mother Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Back woods home is a great site and I spend alot of time there. Regarding the article mentioned on butchering: this also applies to animals that must be euthanized.

    When you butcher only certain members of a herd, avoid frightening the others. Don’t run through the herd chasing the one you want. Move slowly and calmly. Try not to kill one animal in front of the others. Don’t slaughter in the animal’s home.

    I learned this the hard way. My beloved Paint gelding whom I raised from a foal, had to be put down in February of 06. He was 28 years old and suffering from cancer. My mistake was not asking the Vet to take him off the property to put him down. We were very close to the barn and another one of the horses that he was raised with was right there. She started to "scream" like I have never heard a horse before. The dogs were all upset running around, barking, howling and growling at the vet. That mare has still not recovered and has been in depression since. All the animals at our place went through this grieving process and it made it even harder on the humans.
     
  5. greyfields

    greyfields Overrun With Chickens

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    The US is rather in the dark ages with lamb labeling, as it's not as widely popular here as it is in Europe. Lamb popularity, though, continues to rise as we have obviously more immigration and secondly that sheep are more environmentally friendly to raise than cattle.

    Here is how it works in the US:

    1) Up to 1 year old it is a lamb; unless

    2) It has its first set of permanent teeth in place (which would be 1 pair of teeth, or two teeth).

    3) There is no definition of "mutton" or "hogget" for the USDA. So, when you sell commercially and apply for labeling, you really can only label something as lamb. So, on packged food (think your lamb and rice dogfood), everything is called lamb if it comes from sheep.

    Does this strike you as stupid? Yes, me too.

    Here is how it really works in countries where sheep are eaten in great numbers (my wife is from North Yorkshire, my mom from Herefordshire and my nanna from Worcestershire):

    1) A lamb is a lamb as long as it has its milk teeth. At some point right around a year old (either sooner, or later depending on the season it was born), these teeth are replace by the first pair of permanent teeth.

    2) An animal over 1 year old but younger than 2 is known as "hogget", or in some places "fat lamb".

    I raise, market and eat a lot of hogget. I prefer hogget. The cuts are larger than in lamb, you get far more meat per carcass and I think the flavor is better than lamb. I have customers who get hoggets from me. Now, I can't "label" it hogget on a USDA approved label, but I market and sell it.

    Too me, eating an 80 lb lamb (live weight) is simply wasteful. They are far better at 110# lbs live weight.

    Another advantage of hogget is this allows you to retain all your ewe lambs. Then, come the following year they should be lambing right at 1 year old. If they don't drop a lamb, then they go straight into the hogget marketing (the wethers are all eaten as lambs in Fall).

    3) Mutton, then, would be anything beyond hogget or fat lamb.. so 2+ years old. These are almost always cull ewes with broken mouth (over 5 years old). Persoanlly, I like mutton. I don't think there is a difference in taste really.

    I think because people are scared to eat lamb, they're terrified by teh full flavor of mutton.

    4) There is an "old butcher's tale" that they snap the foreshank. If it breaks at the wrist it's a lamb, if it breaks at the bone it's older. I have NEVER been able to find an objective account of where this is used, though. And I may have it backwards even.

    I lamb in May, it's late for most, but ideal for me. I will call it all lamb until next April when they are shipped for sale at my farm market. They are up to 125# live weight by then; but it's still lamb.

    The 'strange' thing for most people is that sheep are still commonly grass fed and grass finished. A grass fed animal has a totally different flavor than a grain finished one. Most people learn to crave it, others can't get over it because they believe Safeway who claims a corn finished beast is better. The bottom line is cows and sheep are designed to turn grass into meat. You absolutely do not need to grain them. I market grass fed, grass finished lamb, and I have customers who drive 2 hours to get it.
     
  6. justusnak

    justusnak Flock Mistress

    Greyfields. Thanks so much for that info. Next spring we are looking into getting sheep..well...hopefully lambs..( LOL) I am looking into the Dorper. Mainly because there will be no shearing...they are supposed to be great meat sheep, and can be milked. Hmmm, sheep milk!?? Dont know if its any good...but hopefully I will find out! Now if I could find a breeder of TRUE Dorpers close to me.
     
  7. greyfields

    greyfields Overrun With Chickens

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    Missprissy milks sheep and swears by it... and I've eaten plenty of sheep cheese... but, the serious option is to get yourself a dairy goat then pick a meat breed of sheep. The management is so similar and the two different species are better suited for those ends.

    Does any breed of sheep taste 'better' than others? This eludes even science. Some breeds may be more pre-disposed to put on more/less fat than others; but there isn't anything chemically different. It's more a factor of now you feed them which affects flavor, not their genetic background.
     
  8. freerange freaks

    freerange freaks Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Ontario, Canada
    That is some great info. and I thank you for it. The reason I needed the info now was because an oportunity has unexpectedly presented intself. There is a farm that is selling 3 Katahdin ram lambs all between 90-100lbs for $300.00 total. Do you think this is a good deal? They have not been wethered, so I think that will influence the flavour of the meat.

    For myself, I prefer a full flavoured meat. But, I cannot eat three lambs and would like to sell some of the meat and was wondering how do you think the flavour would be accepted. What are your thoughts?

    P.S. How do I tell milk teeth from permanent teeth?
     
  9. greyfields

    greyfields Overrun With Chickens

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    Some people raise Katahdin's and swear they are the ultimate sheep. When I look at them, though, side-by-side they simply are puny compared to my Texel crosses. I know a lot of people raise them for ease of shearing (they're hair sheep). But, that's never been a good enough reason for me to pick a breed. I enjoy shearing day and we're getting more and more creative how to use the wool.

    AFAIK, all lambs that enter the food chain are castrated with teh extremely rare exception of a cull ram. Will it affect the meat? I have no idea. I band mine all on their 1st or 2nd day of life.

    Some people "short band" them, leaving the testicles attached but internal. This makes them sterile (most hte time) and they produce more testosterone meaning they grow larger, quicker. A ram lamb aside a wether born teh same day look like thye must have been born many months apart.

    I guess the short answer is, I don't think the testciles are going to cause a strange flavor in them. They're way too young to pick up any conceivable 'taint' from it. The other short answer if you may be disappointed in the ammount of meat you get off them. The cuts are going to be a bit on the small size.


    Milk Teeth vs. Permanet Teeth... sheep get one pair of teeth for each year of life, so a 1 year old has 2 teeth on the bottom. It will have 4 when a 2 year old. So, when you look at a lamb, and it has 6 teeth on it's lower jaw, you know it's not 3 years old so it must be milk teeth. :0
     

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