Lamb vs Mutton?

Discussion in 'Sheep' started by AchesonAcres, Jun 18, 2017.

  1. AchesonAcres

    AchesonAcres Well-Known Member

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    Sent a 1.5 yr old ewe to "freezer camp" yesterday and trying to decide how to have her processed. I've heard older sheep, "mutton", will have a stronger flavor and perhaps tougher meat. Anyone have experience sending older sheep to the freezer? Should I bother with different cuts of meat or just go for ground?
     
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  2. Bearfootfarm

    Bearfootfarm Hello, hello....is there anybody in there.....? Supporter

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    It depends partly on the breed and partly on personal preference.
    Wool breeds of sheep tend to have a stronger flavor.
    Some like the stronger flavor, and with proper handling and cooking tenderness won't be a problem. Give it a try because you can always grind it at any time.
     
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  3. HermitJohn

    HermitJohn Well-Known Member

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    One interesting thing somebody on some cooking show pointed out, sheep are only mainstream commercial meat animal currently not confinement raised on grain. Oh there are specialty free range this and that, and pasture raised this and that, but you will pay high premium for it.

    The gameyness is in part because they are not grain fed/fattened. And of course because of variances in breed, etc. I have never seen any meat so tough that it didnt respond to pressure cooker. I know, not trendy way to cook meat, but it works. Anymore lot of beef, chicken, etc is cooked way it is, cause it has little flavor on its own. Needs all the rubs and sauces, etc plus the charring to give it some flavor.

    We have went back to the middle ages way of cooking meat. Back then they had no good way storage other than drying and salting. So meat went bad, all the brining and spices and special sauces and such were to leach out and hide the bad taste so you could eat rotten/spoiled meat. Well what goes around comes around, now meat is just raised as fast as possible on grain diet it was never intended to eat, so it develops no natural taste. My notion, good meat shouldnt need doctoring.
     
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  4. Kmac15

    Kmac15 This is my life

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    I sent a 5yr old hair ram to process and wanted all ground since I just knew it would be tough. My mom insisted that I save a leg for her to cook for Easter. oh my was I surprised at how tender and flavorful it was. I really wished I had had it processed as I would have a lamb. I would have had chops the size of steaks LOL.
     
  5. Rectifier

    Rectifier Well-Known Member

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    Such a young ewe will be larger and more flavourful than a lamb without getting too "muttony". This is actually my favorite age of sheep to butcher.
     
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  6. AchesonAcres

    AchesonAcres Well-Known Member

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    Ok great, I appreciate the feedback! I'm going to have her processed just like I did the lambs we have done in the past: legs, chops, etc with a little bit of stew meat and ground. Can't wait to try it:p
     
  7. Bearfootfarm

    Bearfootfarm Hello, hello....is there anybody in there.....? Supporter

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    That's usually the best way.

    Big cuts store better, and if you want burger it can be ground as needed from the larger pieces.

    We stopped buying hamburger at the stores years ago and started buying chuck roasts on sale for a lower price than their pre-ground choices.
     
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  8. odieclark

    odieclark Well-Known Member

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    Hermitjohn, very interesting! So, you feel no extra flavor added with grain feeding versus grasses and hay? Hmm... very little experience, but so far,...

    Several lambs raised and eaten who were mostly grain fed, and hay free choice-taken young before a year...second batch was fatty and more gamely type flavor. They were a mix of 12 from auction, from Suffolk, to polypay, Khatidin-hair breed(spelling is wrong), and a few other mixes of those-all seemed quite fatty overall, for as young as they were, and more flavored!?!

    First batch, one suffolk and 3 Columbias, taken in at same age and fed the same, not strong flavored and not fatty.

    Now, heavier hay/alfalfa hay mix, some grain twice a day, on pasture and mild flavored and lower fat. This batch are all Columbias
     
  9. HermitJohn

    HermitJohn Well-Known Member

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    I maybe wrong about all sheep being grass raised. I saw an Americas Test Kitchen where they were cooking rack of lamb. They pointed out that American raised lamb IS usually finished out and fattened on grain. Imported lamb usually is leaner and grass fed only. Leave it to Americans to cheapen everything for that last bit profit.

    They also mentioned the imported grass fed lamb will have stronger taste! Guess lot Americans now conditioned to only eat bland meat. So if you want bland lamb, finish it out on grain! I was truly sorry when Argentina beef started being confinement fattened like American stuff. Argentinian grass raised beef was the best as lot what they ate were natural grasses. So looks like now only the rich and those that raise their own can eat grass fed.
     
  10. Bearfootfarm

    Bearfootfarm Hello, hello....is there anybody in there.....? Supporter

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    They aren't raising lambs for fun.
    Many people prefer the fattier meats since the fats carry much of the flavor.
     
  11. HermitJohn

    HermitJohn Well-Known Member

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    I am not buying it for farmer profit. So I simply wouldnt buy grain fed meat and especially not meat injected with salt water for that extra profit. Oops guess they arent raising them for people that prefer non-bland meat... And "as Americas Test Kitchen pointed out" the imported grass fed lamb has stronger flavor. The grain fed meat is lot more bland. But as I point out, Americans have now been conditioned to prefer bland meat with special sauces and burned flavor added rather than natural meat with natural flavor.
     
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  12. Hiro

    Hiro Well-Known Member

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    That is quite a broad brush you have there. It may very well be the people you know have been conditioned. It may very well be that you have watched a cooking show and believe that you are informed on the subject. I raise sheep and cattle for a living. Most likely, the 'grass fed' nomenclature doesn't mean what you think it means. I have raised and eaten sheep, pigs, cattle and goats, grass fed/grass finished/grain finished, the final marbling and flavors and texture vary greatly. Lamb meat that is grain finished is fattier and hence more marbled, but the flavor is virtually indistinguishable unless you have not allowed them access to pasture. The last lambs I slaughtered were grass fed/grain finished but always had access to pasture. It did not taste any different than the strictly grass fed/finished that I had raised previously. There was just more marbling and they were heavier.

    If you think the best way to raise animals is strictly grass fed, by all means raise them that way. But, don't presume to know the 'best' way to do it for anyone else. Don't presume to speak for anyone other than yourself about their preferences or why, if you don't mind.....
     
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  13. HermitJohn

    HermitJohn Well-Known Member

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    I didnt speak for anybody else. Anybody that wants to buy the grain fed is more than welcome. The problem is you cant buy lean grass fed unless you either import it or raise it yourself. Thus the market is trying to dictate consumer demand, not meet it.

    And for what its worth, meat is far better fed native grasses than "hay". In lot areas with steep short season mountains, ranging sheep on those grasses is only way to use the land. Its not seeded for uber productivity and all that, but you get meat lot closer to what nature intended.

    Putting icing on a turd doesnt make it taste like cake.

    And by way I only mentioned the cooking show because I wasnt aware American farmers fed sheep grain. I naively thought they still raised most sheeps on summer pasture in mountain areas. Should have guessed it though. Anything to increase profit. If they could inject them with concrete or lead to increase the weight quicker they would.
     
  14. Yellowsnow

    Yellowsnow Well-Known Member

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    You have some very broad generalizations of Americans it seems. That must be sad going through life putting everything into blocks.

    Not everyone has mountain sides to range sheep on native grasses that grew after all the forests were cut down long ago. I can go any day and purchase grass fed/finished lamb. I can purchase pastured lamb at the auction house.

    You keep preaching native grasses, but have not once mentioned what type of grass. What about native legumes, mustards, flowers? Reading a bunch of stuff that aligns with your thinking doesn't create knowledge. Things are usually a lot more complex than a box.
     
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  15. Hiro

    Hiro Well-Known Member

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    You really do not know what you are talking about. You can buy whatever kind of lamb meat in the developed world that you want without raising it. When you put hay in quotation marks what on earth are you referring to? Native grasses to where and when? What precisely is meat closer to what nature intended? What do you mean by "anything to increase profit"? Are you even vaguely familiar with the producer's margin in raising livestock vs. retailers? Who are you referring to with the "they" regarding injecting them?
     
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  16. Yellowsnow

    Yellowsnow Well-Known Member

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    Hay isn't grass. You need a mountain side in the middle east during the winter to do it properly. :p
     
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  17. Hiro

    Hiro Well-Known Member

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    I knew that I had been doing it wrong all along.....I just needed to be told from someone that had never done it before.
     
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  18. Rectifier

    Rectifier Well-Known Member

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    My lambs up here in Canada live in the wild hills and eat almost exclusively native grasses and forbs (as that assortment of wild broadleaves is properly called). I guess I'm on the right track BUT... I creep them small amounts of grain as well to improve my gains and shorten my time to market. Anything to make a buck, right? Or maybe, try to make a profit instead of a loss? One should not speak of greed before they have studied the economics of livestock production in today's world.

    For some of us this is not a hobby, and you might be surprised that we don't produce lamb out of the goodness of our hearts. I love my flock but if I raised them for fun I would have a heck of a lot less of them. This is hard work and if you don't support my making a profit, then go buy your lamb from a hobby farmer (who are often taking a loss on their sheep, hurting the entire industry)

    We have to compete with imports from NZ and AUS who enjoy a year round grazing season. My lambs have to make it from 10 to 100lbs between May and October before the frosts take my grass away... yet in that short season I manage to produce a lamb product both tender and flavourful. You can buy what you want based on your own ideals, but I'm selling a lamb that's lean, tender and packed with flavour, and people are buying them as fast as I can send them down the road.
     
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  19. HermitJohn

    HermitJohn Well-Known Member

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    Oddly for consumers, eating isnt a hobby. Just pointing out that consumers dont buy out of the goodness of their hearts either. We have no obligation to buy anything offered in private markets, (well except health insurance by act of congress cause the insurance companies are too big to fail.) You should do as you please within the law and live with the economic results.

    Makes it tough on consumers when its all a race to the bottom far as food quality. As eating is not optional for consumers. And supposedly grass fed anything is priced for the aristocracy only. Even then you dont know, since labeling laws are minimal and apparently not enforced very well. A promise of totally grass fed plus $1 will buy you a cup of coffee. Us poor peon consumers arent supposed to know what we are eating as such knowledge might negatively affect sellers' profits. Just lie back and think of England.....

    Did you know in India, retailers mix specially manufactured stones (that resemble rice), in with the rice they sell, to increase profits. So you buy your rice and painstakenly remove the stones (hopefully get all of them). Then you can resell the stones to the retailer to get a bit back. Tell me how capitalism is a wonderful thing again????? Apparently greed clouds the mind and rids humans of all common sense. Here in civilized part of the world we dont add stones, instead we take every short cut possible to lower production cost, usually involving cheapest inputs possible and good mix of chemicals, product quality and consumer health be danged. Alas here in civilized world its not so easy to "pick out the stones".
     
  20. odieclark

    odieclark Well-Known Member

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    Wow, a very testy topic here! I thought it started out as Lamb or mutton?
    So, this forum began with this, "Sent a 1.5 yr old ewe to "freezer camp" yesterday and trying to decide how to have her processed. I've heard older sheep, "mutton", will have a stronger flavor and perhaps tougher meat. Anyone have experience sending older sheep to the freezer? Should I bother with different cuts of meat or just go for ground?" by Acheson Acres. Thank you, though it is interesting to read what all see as issues or topics of somewhat related areas of interest, but sincerely I still am curious as well!

    AchesonAcres
    Great Question! BTW! Us too, at home and at the farm would love to know the answer to that!

    Now, on this site it has been brought up repeatedly that wool lambs versus hair sheep, having more flavor in wool than in hair...so far, we haven't found that to be the case, but again...very new at this and very small sample size to compare...

    We have had Columbia, some Suffolk, some mixed breeds, some hair sheep and one Jacob lamb processed. I can say that the Columbia, the Jacob and two of the Suffolk sheep were very mildly flavored. 2 of 3 Suffolks were fatty, along with the hair sheep. Now, the fatty results could be because they had grain and hay? One Suffolk, and one Columbia were processed over one year of age, so MUTTON? Neither Mutton was strongly flavored or fatty at all. Both were males. The Columbia was a breeder, and he is delicious.

    I must say however, that our one JACOB Lamb was absolutely OUT OF THIS World DELICIOUS!!! We are very CURIOUS if anyone else has found this with the Jacobs? The one so far, has been absolutely amazing! If only they were a larger breed.... hmm....

    I do question the concept that the farmer makes a big profit and/or is somehow exploiting the customers, whether it be a hobby farmer or a production farmer???!...

    In all Honesty, I have been revising a response to this topic and a number of the comments in it for the past few days and don't know where to start or where to end in doing so! The majority of farmers and hobby farmers I have met or are familiar with, are far from making money or taking advantage of the consumer or customer! The farmers in Wisconsin anyhow, are few and far between in raising sheep or goats and near as I can tell are hardly breaking even, if coming out ahead at all! Wisconsin is a dairy state, and we do have a good deal of cold weather and winter as well...

    FARMING is HARD WORK! It involves LARGE investments of TIME, CAPITAL-$$$, HUGE RISK, Weather affects the animals and the crops that feed our animals...etc! Honestly, if ANYONE feels farming is EASY, WELL then I question whether or not they have EVER FARMED or know what is involved with FARMING!!!????

    Besides what I state above, animals that are raised are victims of predators!...even in our area, we deal with coyotes, wolves, cats of various types, wild dogs, raccoons, etc., Worms from pastures brought in by an overabundance of deer and other worms and parasites also cause us to have to treat the animals and sometimes these parasites actually kill the animal! Plus, people/neighbors will interfere and/or question the farmers livestock and practices used on the farm or hobby farm where the animals are cared for-which includes: (BUT is not limited to) complaints to government agencies about the animals roaming on the land, jumping a fence, or contacting an agency like soils because they poop outside in their pastures,.. and what if that runs into the waterways and contaminates a nearby well(certainly a valid concern, but an issue to be dealt with no less-whether an issue or not....), to noise from roosters-etc, ... To name a few things that we are faced with.

    I have found sheep farmers to actually be some of the most compassionate and caring people overall and have seen how sincere they are in caring for their flocks. Crop and animal farming are both challenging professions and whether done as a hobby or full time, still need to be able to make a living and care for their flock and family by doing so. Land is extremely expensive and most of the land in the United States is deficient in many important minerals that are needed to keep our livestock healthy.

    In our region alone it is very depleted of many minerals that the animals need to be healthy, making supplementation of extra vitamins and minerals necessary on a 24/7 basis free choice. Again, this is essential for us to incur yet another cost to keep our animals healthy. Heck, as people we also take vitamins sometimes, right? Our lambs are offered a selenium mix that we keep supplied to them. Our poor goats are also victims of selenium deficits, as our beef and dairy cattle are and without selenium these same animals have a difficult time getting pregnant, sustaining pregnancy, and having healthy offspring and deliveries. We are also severely copper deficient, which has affected our goats and their success in having healthy and full term deliveries and kids. With extra copper given to them, thankfully, we have been able to avoid the does aborting early dead goat kids, along with goat kids being hopefully born without these copper deficits and having to witness the deadly and sad Sway Back that takes kids after having a successful birth and thinking you actually have a healthy goat kid(s) until about 6 weeks, their little legs become paralyzed and soon their entire body is, and it is so so sad...

    So, saying a farmer doesn't care, or is raising sheep to only take advantage of the customer, or cut costs by feeding some grain, .....or blaming the farmer for taking advantage in some way ...well, I am just not convinced!