Lamb: Whole Animal Fabrication

American Lamb Board
(Previously published online with the Center for the Advancement of Foodservice Education: May 2, 2022)

Teaching whole animal butchery helps students understand meat purchases, cuts and proper preparation.

While many chefs will buy pre-portioned and trimmed cuts to save on labor costs, whole animal butchery education offers culinarians and students a better understanding of meat purchasing, cuts and how best to prepare them.

A lamb meat carcass includes lean muscle tissue, bones, fat and connective tissue. When considering the best cuts for various cooking techniques, it is important to consider the use of the muscle. Working muscles, such as the shoulder and leg, have more connective tissue and are less tender. In general, these tougher cuts of lamb should be prepared using moist-heat cooking methods, such as braising or stewing. Nonworking muscles, such as the rack or loin, are tender and should be prepared using dry-heat cooking methods such as roasting or grilling.

U.S. sheep are generally processed at seven to 10 months of age. The average weight of a lamb heading for processing is around 135 pounds. Meat from a sheep less than one year of age is called lamb. Meat from an older animal is referred to as mutton.

FACT: The average carcass weight or dressed weight of American Lamb is about 70 pounds, about 50 percent of the live weight.

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7 Steps to Enter Direct-To-Consumer Meat Market

Mindy Ward Editor, Missouri Ruralist
(Previously published online with Farm Progress: September 21, 2023)

Get your new farm marketing strategy up and running before the holidays.

In recent years, the direct-to-consumer (DTC) market has become trendy, especially in the meat industry. With changing consumer preferences, growing interest in food sourcing and rising e-commerce sales, DTC marketing is proving a viable and profitable option for farmers and ranchers.

DTC meat suppliers were the pandemic winners in 2020, according to a report from Second Measure, a California-based provider of retail analytics. Many of these suppliers were America’s farmers and ranchers.

Despite consumers returning to brick-and-mortar stores, the DTC movement is still strong as people like the convenience of not only shopping for meat from their couch, but also having it delivered to their doorstep.

Entering this market requires careful planning and execution. If you are new to the DTC market, it is hard to know where to start. So, here’s information from Continue reading 7 Steps to Enter Direct-To-Consumer Meat Market

How Much Meat Should a Lamb Yield?

Carolyn Ihde, Agriculture Educator for Crawford and Richland Counties, University of Wisconsin-Madison
(Previously published online with: Livestock Division of Extension, University of Madison-Wisconsin)

(Figure 1. Lamb Primal Cuts)

Dressing Percentage
To better understand the amount of edible product expected from a grain finished lamb, the first step is understanding the difference in live weight compared to carcass weight. When a lamb (male or female sheep under one year of age) is harvested, certain parts of the animal such as the pelt (hide and wool), feet, blood, and viscera (internal organs) are removed. The post-harvest hanging weight, known as the hot carcass weight, includes the lean (meat), adipose tissue (fat), and bone. Dressing percentage is the difference between live animal and carcass weight and is influenced by factors such as muscle, fat cover and size, to name a few. These factors help determine how much meat the carcass may yield (Table 1). Continue reading How Much Meat Should a Lamb Yield?

How Much Should You Charge? Pricing Your Meat Cuts

Brian F. Moyer, Education Program Associate, Business and Community Vitality, Penn State University Extension
(Previously published online: PennState Extension – December 22, 2022)

Pricing meat for direct-to-consumer sales.

It doesn’t matter if you are selling halves, quarters, or single cuts, you need to know your cost of production first. What are your costs of raising that animal from day one until the day of slaughter? In any business endeavor, keeping good records is essential to knowing if you are going to be profitable or not. Once you know your cost of production, there are some tools you can use to help you determine what price you may want to attach to your fine, farm-fresh product.

Mike Debach of the Leona Meat Plant in Troy, Pennsylvania, has a nifty process you can use thatwill help you figure out your costs after processing so you can determine your retail price. For this example, understand that the cost of production will vary depending on Continue reading How Much Should You Charge? Pricing Your Meat Cuts