age for butchering?

Discussion in 'Sheep' started by Matt NY, Jul 22, 2005.

  1. Matt NY

    Matt NY Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    98
    Joined:
    May 28, 2002
    Location:
    New York
    I have a 3 month old intact ram lamb, horned dorset if that matters. I left him intact for better gain. At what age should I be concerned that being intact will give the meat a strong taste.
     
  2. Ronney

    Ronney Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,699
    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2004
    Location:
    New Zealand
    Personally, I wouldn't leave him anything past a hogget AND keep him away from any ewes he might have an urge to flutter his eyelids at.

    Rather than leave them as rams, try cryptorchiding them. This allows them to put on muscle without the risk of strong ram taste. They should be killed before becoming 2ths though as they do have a tendancy to pile on fat on the smell of an oily rag past that age. Also be wary about running them with ewes or ewe lambs as cryptorchiding doesn't guarantee infertility.

    Cheers,
    Ronnie
     

  3. MorrisonCorner

    MorrisonCorner Mansfield, VT for 200 yrs

    Messages:
    3,736
    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2004
    Location:
    VT
    Oookay... could someone please translate Ronney's educated answer into newbie speak for the rest of us?
     
  4. Ronney

    Ronney Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,699
    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2004
    Location:
    New Zealand
    Sorry Morrison, I wasn't trying to be educated :)
    I take it the term cryptorchid is what has you baffled? The ram lamb still has a ring applied but instead of ensuring the testicles are in the bag, they are deliberately pushed back into the body and the ring applied to any empty bag. This allows the animal to develop in the same way a ram lamb would but without the side affects of strong tasting meat as it matures.

    I don't know if you use the terms hogget, 2th's etc in the States. A lamb becomes a hogget at a year old. Some time after that it will lose the first of it's milk teeth and grow in two larger ones (these will be the two middle ones) and at the time of two years old, it is known as a two tooth (2th). The following year it will lose the two on either side of them and grow in larger teeth at which point it is called a four tooth (4th) but is only 3 years old. The year after that the same applies to the next lot of outer teeth and is then called a six tooth (6th) or full mouth and is four years old. The following year, anything with a full mouth is referred to as "aged" and the teeth will start wearing down. Annual checks should be done on a sheeps teeth to ensure that they have good length particularly if the land they are grazing is pumice, sand or stoney, and that they haven't lost any. I'm sorry if that's more info than you wanted - or needed :D

    Cheers,
    Ronnie
     
  5. kesoaps

    kesoaps Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    4,108
    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2004
    Location:
    Washington State
    Great info, Ronney! The 2th thing had me wondering...as did hogget! Also glad you cam along to answer the ram lamb question, since we just may end up doing that with this one here.
     
  6. Ross

    Ross Moderator Staff Member Supporter

    Messages:
    13,071
    Joined:
    May 9, 2002
    Location:
    Ontario
    I make most of mine cryptorchid but really can't see how leaving the testies in the body will make it one bit different from a ram as a meat animal. I have butchered 18 month old cryptorchid lambs and they are fine but I suspect having a cold climate may slow the growth of rams somewhat.
     
  7. Matt NY

    Matt NY Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    98
    Joined:
    May 28, 2002
    Location:
    New York
    I assume that it is too late to push the testes back at 3 months of age. I plan on butchering him in the fall. How long before he develops any off flavor? Should I castrate him at some point? How old before he is fertile?

    Thanks,
    Matt
     
  8. Ross

    Ross Moderator Staff Member Supporter

    Messages:
    13,071
    Joined:
    May 9, 2002
    Location:
    Ontario
    He can breed at least a few ewes if he is able to mount the ewe properly. Its a size thing not an age thing. With age he will increase is capacity to service more ewes over a week for example. I'd be learly of going over 18 months with a ram and personally I wouldn't try to make him a cryporchid "wether" at 3 months. Perhaps because I make my ram lambs cryptorchid very early the testies do not grow as large and, (thinking about it ) there-in is the difference Ronney is suggesting between a full fledged ram and a crypt-wether??? Hope he has a little more to add about it!
     
  9. Ronney

    Ronney Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,699
    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2004
    Location:
    New Zealand
    Hi Matt,
    Over here the docking isn't done until the last expected lamb is born, the reason being sheer numbers. This means that the first born lambs can, in some cases, be getting pretty big but are still able to be rung. Three months is borderline and if you are going to kill him in the fall, I wouldn't bother - BUT make sure you do kill him. Autumn is only a few months away which will make him, say 6 or 7 months old, maybe a bit more but certainly less than a year. Lambs that are deemed too big to be rung at the time of docking are sent off to the works in the first lamb pick and are no more than 6 months old but are still go through as prime lamb so I don't expect that you should have any trouble at all with the taste of your meat.

    However, do keep him away from ewes if possible. It is highly unlikely that he will do much damage at his age or at this time of the year unless you keep breeds that are capable of all-year lambing, but as Ross has said, they can be capable and as they mature, their fertility rises.

    Ross, I'm not too sure whether retracting the testes into the body slows the growth of them as most crypts are killed out within the year anyway. I've had a couple of "accidental" crypts with only one teste that have been killed as R2th's and the ramaining teste was as big as anything I would find in a ram and making quite a decided bulge between his legs. The meat was as good as a fully fledged wether of the same age.

    This isn't important really, but I'm a she ;)

    Cheers,
    Ronnie
     
  10. Ross

    Ross Moderator Staff Member Supporter

    Messages:
    13,071
    Joined:
    May 9, 2002
    Location:
    Ontario
    :bash: OOOPS! No its not important really. (thus proving that while responcible for the safe functionality of the sheep board your fathful moderator does not employ CIA methods to vet every participant of said board............ and he probably missed any obvious clues being rather clueless the vast majority of the time!)
     
  11. Ronney

    Ronney Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,699
    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2004
    Location:
    New Zealand
    Hi Ross,

    I don't think I ever gave any clues, just one of those things. But so pleased to know that you don't employ the CIA and Big Brother isn't always watching :)

    Cheers,
    Ronnie
     
  12. ONThorsegirl

    ONThorsegirl Fergusons Family Farm

    Messages:
    1,326
    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2005
    Location:
    Eastern Ontario
    Hi Everyone,

    Ross for what reason do you or anyone else do that type of casterating. We did it last year to 2 ram lambs as we had but the ring on too early and didn't notice we didn't get the testies below the elastic.

    Melissa
     
  13. Ross

    Ross Moderator Staff Member Supporter

    Messages:
    13,071
    Joined:
    May 9, 2002
    Location:
    Ontario
    Two main reasons: it's easier, and: my Muslim customers prefer entire ram lambs because they think it is better meat, so its a compromise. I think these entire wethers grow a bit faster and leaner too.