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My dad bought 2 sheep this spring from a salebarn. We don't know their ages, all we know is one is white, one black, I think both are female.
I will guestimate them to weigh no more than 125 pounds each.
Would they possibly be suitable to eat?
He wants to get rid of them before winter, he only got them to graze a fenced lot on his prperty.
Is there a peticular cut off age where they are good to eat and not so much?
 

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Were they older when he bought them or lambs? That might make a difference. Generally the younger they are the better they are to eat. That isn't always true but it's a line most follow. Your butcher might be able to tell you. If they are older- lamb sausage is really good. You can always make them into sausage.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
We don't know the age when they were bought, I suppose I could check their teeth, somebody told me how to estimate their age from their teeth.
As far as butcher, well, I am the butcher. Never done a sheep before, but it cant be too much different than a young deer......can it?
 

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No, it would be very similar to a deer, you should be able to find your way around easily enough.

If they are older, you will have mutton instead of lamb (lamb is considered 1 year and under), it will have a stronger flavor than lamb, and may take some getting used to, but sausage is always good :D
 
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Discussion Starter #6
Thank you, and yup, that's how it was explained to me.
So, if they are a year old they might be ok? But two or older be sausage only?
 

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Under a year should be fine. Do you like lamb? Most people I know seem to think it is too "gamey" for their tastes. DH and I love lamb - and mutton.

If they are older then you would have to try some and see how you like it. Look up some mutton recipes and try a few. If it's too strong tasting and too tough for you then grind it.
 

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Thank you, and yup, that's how it was explained to me.
So, if they are a year old they might be ok? But two or older be sausage only?

Not necessarily. I've butchered 4 year old Icelandic ewes that you couldn't tell the difference from lamb except for the size of the cuts.

It really depends a lot on breed I think. I think this thing about older sheep being nearly inedible started with really gamey breeds and somehow became "truth" applied to all sheep. Are some really gamey? Yes. But many aren't. Hey, could you post a photo of them? Maybe we could figure out the breed(s).

If you are the butcher, you could butcher one, take a chop or something and cook it right away and try it. If you like it, then you know you can divvy up the carcass into whatever cuts you prefer. If you don't, then you know it's for sausage and probably the same for the other ewe.

But looking again at your post - if they are no more than about 125lbs live weight, they probably aren't that old...

ETA: technical terms - "lamb" = less than one year, "hogget" = yearling to two years, "mutton" = 2 years and up. But, like I said, my Icelandic "mutton" tastes pretty much like "lamb."
 

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Wow, that link say's that sheep roughly around 10yrs old have no teeth. I have a 9yr and 11yr ewes, will turn 10 and 12 in about 8mo. They still have their teeth and act like all the younger gals. :/

I agree that it's personal taste mixed with genetics and the common rule is to eat anything a year or younger, any species, to taste and be softest. And that castrated ones have less taint.

But we had a boar that was nearing 2yrs, no taint to him and he wasn't tough or hard to eat or gamey.

You might end up liking the sheep, but then others you share the meat might hate it.


Why is it a hogget, who/why came up with that name? Never heard them being called that and I'm sure everyone here would assume I'm talking about a female pig if I said it...
"hogget" = yearling to two years
 

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As far as butcher, well, I am the butcher. Never done a sheep before, but it cant be too much different than a young deer......can it?
Shoulders and hams are same as doing deer but instead of cutting out the backstrap, most people cut the carcass down the spine (I use a sawzall) so you're left with two halves. Doing it that way leave the ribs and backstrap all one piece, then you can cut it into portions leaving two or three ribs and part of a backstrap. Man, it's a heckuva lot easier to do than it is to explain it on the computer :confused:.
 

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I have butchered five year old sheep, even a ram, that were good. You may have a cut that is tougher than the rest, but that is for stew.
 

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Wow, that link say's that sheep roughly around 10yrs old have no teeth. I have a 9yr and 11yr ewes, will turn 10 and 12 in about 8mo. They still have their teeth and act like all the younger gals. :/

I agree that it's personal taste mixed with genetics and the common rule is to eat anything a year or younger, any species, to taste and be softest. And that castrated ones have less taint.

But we had a boar that was nearing 2yrs, no taint to him and he wasn't tough or hard to eat or gamey.

You might end up liking the sheep, but then others you share the meat might hate it.


Why is it a hogget, who/why came up with that name? Never heard them being called that and I'm sure everyone here would assume I'm talking about a female pig if I said it...
"hogget" = yearling to two years

I don't know where that started but I would blame it on the British(since I am busy harassing a limey on another sight). It just sounds like something they would say!LOL

Wade
 

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This is my life
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we processed 4 sheep that were 5 years old and could not believe how tender the meat was. We had them all done as ground and stew meat with one large leg roast. The roast was so tender I wish we had had them processed like we normally would lambs.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Since I have never done a sheep, I'm assuming its just straight forward? Dispatch with a .22, gut, skin, then section the cuts, correct?
 

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Are these wool sheep? Try to keep the wool side of the skin from touching the meat, it has lanolin and does affect the taste of the meat. Wash your hands good after skinning, before touching the meat....James
 

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Also if they are wool sheep, there is more lanolin, and that tends to make the "mutton" flavor - some people can handle it, some dont like it( I cant stand it, but without the lanolin- not Wool sheep - is ok by me)- raised in Australia, all they have there are the Merinos...

(very wooly)

Good suggestion to quick try a chop first....
 

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Hogget is a well known and used term in sheep rearing countries - I run lambs, hoggets, 2ths and mutton. Traditionally, last years' lambs become hoggets when the first lamb of this year hits the ground. That is no longer the criteria commercially but generally speaking anything between a year old and two years is classed as a hogget.

What your sheep tastes like will rely as much on what it has been fed as it does on breed but in my opinion it all tastes pretty good.

Try and age your sheep if you can for your own satisfaction as much as anything else. If you think they have a full mouth i.e. they have cut all their adult teeth, this will help you on how to cook it. There is nothing wrong with older sheep (mutton) and I decry putting them into mince. A leg of mutton slow roasted for 7 hours at a low heat is to die for and should fall off the bone.

We kill our own mutton (also a word to cover all sheep meat) but never lambs. Most NZ farmers don't like lamb, finding it insipid and tasteless. Those that don't know any better and don't have the choice pay huge money to eat it. We kill hoggets or 2ths for our own table and any older sheep are used for slow cooking and are often the best of the lot. And the flap stuffed, roasted and eaten hot is heaven.

Cheers,
Ronnie
 
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