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What breed is mainly used for meat production.

2476 Views 17 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  GeorgeK
The reason I ask is the restaurant I work at used to buy US lamb and the racks were HUGE compared to the NZ/Australian lamb.

I believe most sheep in Australia are Merino but it might be different nowadays.
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I'm not certain of the breakdown in population by breed in NZ but they do have a very diverse population. I expect you're assumption is correct though. There is more to it than breed, its also type. The frozen NZ lamb we get here is spring lamb undoubtably Merino (strong flavoured) and would be different from the typical N American lamb marketed mostly by age. The NZ stuff is plump grass fed light lamb most N American stuff is heavy lamb with grain suppliment and about 6 months older. The lamb sold in Ontario stores retail comes from the forward contracting system with well defined target weights and backfat limits, to produce lean lamb. It's going to be older stuff that makes the grade there. Younger lamb has more fat but will hit that weight faster. Nice to imagine we're beating the Kiwis at thier game but they now have fresh flown in heavy lamb (older) that competes with our fresh lean stuff head on. To your point yes we have more "meat" lamb breeds here but less of them and our marketing is only just catching up. I expect the American experience is similar except your nation flock size has been falling in numbers while ours (Canada) is growing. The BSE ruminant ban is only makign those numbers worse, so I expect the next five years we'll see lower prices. On the plus side that might just kung fu that fresh NZ lamb in the store counter. I don't know what thier margin on it is but NZ is the marketing system to beat. As for carcass size most comercial flocks in N America use Suffolks, and I'd bet supper Dorset is number 2. Both will out weigh a Merino (sans wool) if I remember right. There are bigger breeds too.
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Well thanks for the reply.

Very interesting and it did support my suspicions about American lamb.

The problem here seems to be that American lamb is almost double the price!!!

We are in the process of buying 17 acres of land and are up in the air about what livestock would work on such land,it will be most likely 14 acres of pasture so would it profitable to have sheep on such a small acreage.

I fear my dream of having a herd of Longhorns won't really work out that well.
Supply and demand, your domestic national flock is shrinking the Canadian lamb imports are cut off (BSE ban) so American lamb prices sky rocket. Border opens price falls everyone loses. I'd hold off buying breeding stock of any ruminant until the border is trading freely again. Which your Prez just said would be soon.
Do you really think the Canadian sheep numbers are growing? I thought they were shrinking the last few years as a result of droughts and BSE (at least in Western Canada) Producers have just been giving up on them from what I have heard, no money in lambs that sell for .50 cents per pound live weight especially if you are dried out and buying feed.
i have read in the past that a trhee breed cross will grass finish a lamb to market weight starting with a white breed (good maternal )sheep and cross with a scottish blackface. then take the resulting ewes and breed back to a dorsett ram for a terminal lamb, also a good breed for a lot of lambs quick is the polypaythey give birth to a large # of lambs but that has drawbacks as well. try a few ewes of different breeds and get the best ram you can less than a dozen ewes should make a nice starter flock then rate the lambs on a merit and weed out the mothers that don't work for your program.
Hey Kit, yes I do based on what I read anyhow. Haven't had time to count them all! :haha: Check it out HERE third item Feb18, 2004.
Well, Ross if you can get them to stand still long enough - let me know your trick!! We have a heck of a time counting them..... And, if I haven't said it yet - this is a GREAT site!
Ross - just read that article and like I said Western Canada have declining numbers 10% lower in Alberta and I'm pretty sure I read the SSDB said about the same thing. Thing is I never new the numbers East were growing!

What about the Katadin or Dorper? I understand the meat is more mild in the Katadin. Can these two breeds compete w/ the woolies in a commercial operation or are they really just a niche breed?
There are comercial sized katahdn flocks and I would hope they are niche marketed. If they do as good a job as the Angus folk and beef they can cause the rest of us a lot of trouble. :)
Kit most producers here in Ontario know the west is losing stock numbers and are taking advantage of it. This BSE nonsence is what is really hurting our market. Too cheap western lamb is really cutting us deeply. That said no pain no gain. I'm sure the numbers for the USA would show some states with growing flocks, at a guess I'd say the New England states and their imediate neighbors would be growing. This is to service a growing ethnic market with fresh lamb. NZ is in with a good product and first class marketing. They're beatable but if we can't service the market we'd take from them, then there is no point.
For the best tasting lamb meat, the Soay breed should be considered. They are a hair sheep and have less lanolin which seems to affect the flavor. The breed is small (60- 90 lbs.) but grow very quickly (full size in 3-6 months). Because of their size they are very easy to handle and require practically no care. They need no grain, no help at lambing, no shearing, no tail docking. They look like miniature big horns. They are fairly rare in the states but growing in popularity. We raise them and have sold one ram to the moslems for a religious feast so far. (We have so the rest as breeders.)They were very pleased with the meat. If you are interested go to:
The Muslim market here does not buy any hair breed sheep primarily because it does not taste like a wool breed. To each their own! Best tasting is pretty subjective, and it's not exactly fair to say all wool breeds taste the same. Age, how they are fed and what, make a very noticable difference.
You can't beat the mild flavor of the Katahdin. After you cook the meat the whole house doesn't smell like a lamb chop!!!
We raise Katahdins and they are a very interesting breed whose time has definitely come. They are becoming a very serious and important economic sheep whose numbers are increasing dramatically. They come in various colors and are fairly parasite resistant.
If my health was better, I would get back into sheep,, either Soay or St Croix.. because there is a market here with the Muslims and other ethinc groups.

Last gentleman that bought the Soays & Two pygmy goats, thought they really tasted good,, and was hoping I would start breeding again.
Ah well..
Actually, most muslims love Katahdin meat. Those are some of our biggest markets. But, they do prefer them left uncastarated. Are the lamb chops of a soay tiny if they only weigh 90lbs full grown? What weight should they be butchered at then? We butcher our Katahdins at about 110 - 115 pounds and easily eat 12 lamb chops at a meal! (2 aldults and 3 kids age 4 - 9) Our mature ewes weigh aoubt 180 - 200lbs and rams around 300lbs. Also, if I'm not mistaken I believe that most hair breeds don't have that lanolin taste you refer to. My kids even take cold roast lamb sandwiches with them to school and love them, doesn't have to be eaten warm.
Granted flavor is subjective, I think at least to my family, Kathadin, Blackbellies etc are a little too mild in flavor. I agree they don't leave the film in your mouth like the woolies and are preferable to that.

Soay taste and texture is more like Elk than any other sheep I've eaten. I am not sure how to answer about chops size though, since I filet the meat off the spine, trying to not spill the Cerebral Spinal Fluid. As far as I know there have been no cases of Scrapie in Soay, but I just think it's good practice. The loin is smaller than your typical meat breeds, seems to be about a diameter of like 1 and 1/2 inches maybe?
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