How many pounds should a lamb weigh to slaughter

Discussion in 'Sheep' started by Jcran, May 9, 2010.

  1. Jcran

    Jcran Well-Known Member

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    We have two lambs born Feb 28th....at what weight is the best slaughter time? I DON'T like a lot of sheepy flavor if that makes sense...I've had INCREDIBLE lamb and icky lamb. Right now they're getting pasture, alfalfa and grain.
     
  2. beoircaile

    beoircaile Master Enabler

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    We butcher our lambs anywhere from 100-140lbs. The breed will determine a lot of the flavor.
     

  3. RiverPines

    RiverPines Well-Known Member

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    Depends on your taste preference, the rate of lamb growth and such.
    If a lamb is slower growing and you like the meat of young lambs, say 3 months, but your lamb is small at that age, then you butcher it at that age if thats what you want.
    Maybe you want more meat but just not anything over 1 yr. Then you do it maybe at 10 months when its more meaty.

    Whats the main factors to you, weight or age?

    Heck I have known people who like them right from teat to pan, even if they are small.
     
  4. goodshephrd

    goodshephrd Active Member

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    Depending on breed between 100 and 150. Suffolk and suffolk crosses were heavier than dorset. We were also very careful not to let the wool touch the meat when we butchered. The lanolin in the wool gave the meat an off taste.
     
    Last edited: May 9, 2010
  5. sheepish

    sheepish Well-Known Member Supporter

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    It also depends on sex. Rams get that mutton taster younger than ewes. I have had meat from ewes that were butchered at a year that tasted as good as any lamb, but a ram over 5 months is usually past its prime for slaughter.

    Look for finish on the meat. The lamb shouldn't be too fat or too skinny when you slaughter.
     
  6. Ernie

    Ernie Well-Known Member

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    A HUGE deciding factor in that is whether or not I'm butchering animals myself.

    A large portion of the slaugher price at most butchers is the "kill fee", which is the same for a 70 pound lamb as it is for a 140 pound lamb. The smaller the animal you kill, the higher the cost of the meat per pound.

    If you're doing it yourself, then it really boils down to personal preference. Most of the animals I butcher are culls at this point. I haven't started to "squeeze" the acreage yet. Then it just depends on when the animal was born and how closely I want to manage them.

    For example, an animal on good pasture born in the spring that I intend to cull will probably live until the following fall and the first snow. It's not costing me anything to let it graze and gain weight. That same animal rejected by its mother and needing to be bottle fed will probably go into the stewpot within 24 hours. I'm not really a big fan of bottle babies unless I find it economically feasible (or I just really like the animal). Animals born at the end of the season will need to be breeding quality in order to live longer than about 2 months.
     
  7. KIT.S

    KIT.S Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Wow. Aren't the cuts little bitty at 2 months? I have 2 month lambs out there that I thought "nice, they've grown well!" but I didn't look at them and see lambchops. Last year's Finn crosses I butchered at 11 months, and the ones I have now are a lot smaller than the Dorpers I see in the fields nearby. They taste good though, and the Finn moms produce lots of babies, so maybe it's numbers over weight. But when the Finns start out at 3 pounds at birth, nearly anything looks big at 2 months.
    The 11 month Finn wethers' lambchops are small enough to require at least 2 at dinner for an adult. Probably 4 for my son. A lamb disappears out of the freezer quickly at that rate.
    Also, the Finn X Icelandic is very mild meat with no lanolin taste at all.
    Kit
     
  8. RiverPines

    RiverPines Well-Known Member

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    We have had both 2 month old lambs and goats. You do them whole roasted and its so tender and good!!! :)
     
  9. Ernie

    Ernie Well-Known Member

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    Well, when I butcher an animal I rarely do "cuts". Mostly I just strip the meat off in smallish pieces and put it into freezer bags to be used for stews and such.

    Anyone can butcher (the verb) an animal, but it takes a butcher (the noun) to do it properly and get decent cuts of meat out of it. I am, and probably always will be, a poor butcher by the exacting standards of that profession.

    However it doesn't take a lot of skill to carve stew meat off of a carcass and for a 2 month animal I can hang it over a fencepost and do the job in an hour or so.

    It's all about the cost per pound when it comes to that. If the animal is born at the end of the season then I'm going to have to put it on grain or hay to put meat on and that costs me money. If I go ahead and butcher them myself at weaning time then I don't have to worry about their feed costs OR a butcher's fee. I also find the taste of a milk-fed lamb that young to be really good, if a bit on the mild side.

    Heart and kidneys go for roasting. Liver goes for frying through the winter. All the rest of the offal goes to the dogs. I'd skin them too at that age, but it's more trouble than it's worth, I think. I don't need a sheepskin the size of a dinner plate.
     
  10. KIT.S

    KIT.S Well-Known Member Supporter

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    We were lucky enough to find a commercial meat band saw with attached metal grinder on Craigslist (I LOVE Craigslist!) and it is the single most wonderful piece of equipment I own, even counting my canners! It has reduced my butchering time to hours instead of days, and the cuts are recognizable. I know it tastes the same, but my family prefers it that way.
    I get the big animals (300 lb plus pigs) killed and skinned or scalded-and-scraped at the butcher's, then I can do my own cut-and-wrap for much less money, and it's easy. I do get lost around the shoulders yet - can't figure out what gets cut where - but otherwise, it's pretty straightforward.
    The smaller animals are all done at home.
    Kit