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Discussion in 'Sheep' started by bill not in oh, Dec 22, 2006.
At what age/size does lamb become mutton?
And if it makes a difference - Suffolk.
I don't know if the definition varies from place to place, but I read somewhere that it's called lamb up to 14 months, yearling mutton up to 2 years of age, and mutton after 2 years. Don't know about the taste differences, but we just sent a "yearling mutton" age ram off to the processor, so are looking forward to tasting.
The US meat industry definition of lamb is when a joint in the lower foreleg is broken to determine the amount of cartilage left. If this break occurs in cartilage, it indicates a young sheep and the carcass is classified as lamb. If no cartilage is present it means the joint has fused and growth is ended which indicates a mature mutton carcass. In this case breed doesn't have an influence.
From a marketing standpoint, the stockyard graders will generally check teeth if there is doubt. Once they have their first two adult teeth the animal becomes a yearling (or in some parts of the world a hogget). These animals bring a lower price than lamb but still more than a mature (aged) sheep that would be classed as mutton.
For personal consumption, we consider anything through their yearling year to be tender and tasty. Once they have their second set of adult teeth we use them as mutton. These animals we'll process into hamburger, bratwrust and summer sausage. We've Hampshires which along with Suffolks are considered a slower maturing breed.
Hope this helps.
taste wise, mutton is gamier and tougher meat. West Indian/Caribbean dishes use a lot of mutton great for stews and long cookin oven dishes.
I prefer mutton, when cooked properly.
We once sent to the stockyards a groups of young ewes that had lambed at 10-12 months and weaned these lambs. We expected sheep prices, they were rated as lamb.
Same here. But you cannot find it anywhere that I live (no Indian or Caribbean folks I guess). You can barely find Lamb for gosh sakes!
Even in montreal it's hard to find and we have a huge west Indian population... hmmm maybe you need to get some! I loved having the freezer full when i had sheep
I'm working on my "sheep" contacts now and will be having my own flock one day *sigh*. The notion is quite appealing *yum*.
hmmmm... donsgal, you need to teach me about sheep! I'd like to runa few, a few goats to with the cattle. might as well pick the right kind for spinning and meat.
Oh mercy, there are better teachers on here than me! I am just learning myself LOL. I am leaning toward Romanov myself. A good multi-purpose sheep that is legendary for multiple and easy births. Dorset is the most common meat sheep, I am told. I like spinning dorset, but most people find it to coarse/scratchy, especially for next to your skin clothing.
It would be a good topic to explore and I would be very interested in reading the input of the EXPERTS on the board as to what their recommendations would be.