At what age do you butcher your lambs?

joshplus10

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We bought a lamb from a neighbor last year, but my significant other didn't like the taste. I'm thinking that a younger animal may have more appeal.

At what age do you butcher your lambs?
 

aggieterpkatie

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joshplus10 said:
We bought a lamb from a neighbor last year, but my significant other didn't like the taste. I'm thinking that a younger animal may have more appeal.

At what age do you butcher your lambs?
I tend to do around 6 months or whenever the reach a suitable weight for my preferences.

How old was the lamb you did? And was it a ram, ewe, or wether?
 

goodhors

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We go for size and age. With the meat breeds, you can get bigger lambs if you have no deadline like the County Fair. When we bred and raised our own lambs, they were usually about 150# when we took them in.

Lambed in early spring, grass fed only, usually to the processor in late fall, like Nov. or Dec. before we had to give them hay.

Lambs were wethers and ewes, no rams ever. Produced to be eaten and the flavor was excellent.

What we were told, have practiced, is to get the lambs in to the processor before they develop any adult teeth. Adult teeth around here is usually about 10-12 months of age, on well fed lambs. For some reason the change when lambs get adult teeth affects the flavor of the meat, and you then have mutton, not lamb. Mutton is an aquired taste, you eat it from childhood. Our family thinks muttons is an awful flavor, but loves the taste of lamb.

Since we really dislike mutton, we have been REALLY careful to not let lambs get too old before processing. I was surprised at the weight gain on just grass, with those lambs. When husband told me the weights, 150 to 170 on 3 lambs I was amazed! Thought the puffy look was all wool. We had so much lamb that we gave it away for Christmas presents that year!

With County Fair at the end of July as a finish deadline now, the Market Lambs must be at about 130 to 140 pounds, have been fed some grain and lamb pellets with their daily grazing time. These are Jan-Feb born lambs. We get them in April. They finish faster with the grain, but it costs us more to have them ready. Those grass fed ones in the past were almost free! Stud fees for the ram, baby shots, processing fees were the only expenses.

Forgot to add that we want big lambs to be processed. The per head fee is the same on a 50 pound lamb or a 150 pound lamb. Wit small size going in, you probably only get 20 some pounds of meat in very small cuts. Chops the size of quarters! Then we also have to pay the meat cutting and wrapping per pound fee before you can get the meat home. I would not buy a small breed lamb, Cheviot at for instance, not cost efficient to us.

We talked to our friend who raised Cheviot for the wool, couldn't believe how tiny the meat lambs he sold were!! I know most of the Dorset crosses another friend sells are maxed out at 100 pounds. She usually sells them at about 60 pounds because that is what the customers want. Just BITTY things. The Dorset breeder has a big Middle Eastern base of buyers. They like the size and special feed she uses for the flavor of their homeland in the lambs. Millet and other less common grains. Those folks buy live lambs, process their own.
 

kabri

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I think the taste depends on the breed too. We have raised cheviots for many years, got them for herding and mowing, not meat. So we usually butcher at a year old because our breed matures slower than some. We've done uncastrated ram lambs and the taste was fine!

Also, we butchered a 7 year old cheviot ram. We thought he would be really mutton-y, so we had all the meat ground. What a mistake! That ground meat was excellent and wished we had gotten some other cuts! Huge surprise to us.

We have ram lambs close to 1 year old now that will be going to the butcher soon, they are only 1/2 cheviot so will be interesting to see how they taste!
 

horseshoeridge

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If you are going for spring lamb, about 3 months old. Going for regular lamb anything up to a year. Spring lamb is like having veal instead of beef, lamb up to a year is not as tender depending on how they are raised - fed - grain/corn=fat, grass not so much fat; running gets the meat not as tender - calm handling and correct killing contributes a lot to tenderness and taste. We butcher at about 5 months old, yes you get less meat but the meat is tender, less fat and better tasting then raising for pounds and size.
 
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