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Differences in the taste of sheep breeds

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Not exactly 'management', but definitely livestock oriented --

 

Opinions on the difference in taste of different sheep breeds. Has anyone noticed this? Do you have a favorite(s)?

 

The reason I ask is because I was talking to someone recently who said that lamb wasn't her favorite meat, but that if she did eat lamb, she preferred Katahdin meat because it was a lighter taste (less gamey). Yes/no? Other tasty sheep breeds.

 

And on a related note -- what are the sheep breeds that stay tender to a more mature age? I remember reading an article in which the person stated that a specific breed of sheep ( I forget which one) stayed tender longer than other breeds she had raised. I think she said that this breed still had 'tender' meat at 5 years old. Is that normal and does the meat of most breeds become tougher at an earlier age?

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I notice a bit of a different taste with the different breeds. I find Katahdin to be more bland, the black face sheep stronger flavor and then the white wool breeds like dorset, ncc in the middle. Quite a bit depends on feed and age as well. I think pasture raised lamb has a more mild taste than those on full feed. I have never butchered anything older than a yearish so do not know about the mutton.

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How they are fed makes a difference as well as age. And the finer the wool, the more lanolin the stronger the flavor. Grass fed is best if managed right and have a small layer of fat when processed. It is lean-personally I don't like fat lamb as the flavor is poor. And how it is processed will affect the taste. A halal type kill is better. If don't properly there is few stress hormones released and those affect the taste.

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Wow- lamb rated last for taste?

 

Some of the nicest meals I have ever had had lamb, good lamb, as the centerpiece. One of them was lamb with mashed potatoes, peas, and gravy which had been kept made-up for several hours before my arrival and then reheated in the microwave, which would have wreaked havoc on the taste of say roast beef.

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That was an interesting read. I think lamb might become more popular if people were more aware of it. The American Lamb Board could step up their game in promoting lamb. I see plenty of TV commercials promoting beef, pork and chicken but haven't seen any promoting lamb.

 

As far as taste, not only how it's raised can affect flavor, but how it's cooked. Grass fed meat is much leaner and many people over cook it, which ends up being tough and stronger flavored.

 

Samantha

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Thank you for that link. Very interesting.

 

I have a friend (~70 years old) who will not eat lamb to this day because he remembers his mother serving lamb, and he really disliked it. I am wondering if she fed mutton or did not prepare it correctly.

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The American lamb board has been collecting my "tax" money but I rarely see anything from that required payment. As far as I can tell, my payments go to paying the salaries of those on and working for the board. I hope our check-off program is not like the American egg board (look up news about "Just Mayo").

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Yeah I'm with you Mark. They have never helped me sell anything. Screw 'em

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If you'd lived in the neighbourhood you'd be welcome to visit and try it. It is slaughtertime here, we took home two yearlings, two older sheep and will probably in the last round take a couple of lambs.

 

 

On a related note _ brag alert!_ at this point we are holding this season's heaviest lamb record (that is individual, not average)of the local slaughterhouse; a whopping 30.7 kg carcass. But there are still a couple of weeks to go...

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I asked Dan his opinion on this subject and he said that all were equally "yummy" but that he preferred the taste of beef. Never trust the opinion of a grippy dog when it comes to the finer points of gastronomic delight!

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Since the American lamb board does nothing for us I try in my own small way to promote eating lamb in my area.

 

I love eating lamb, but have never tried mutton. I just had an older katahdin ewe processed so I have 32 #'s of ground mutton in the freezer, but its all spoken for so I won't be able to try it. I know a lady who prefers mutton over lamb, she enjoys the stronger flavor.

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I often eat my cull ewes since I sell my lambs for others to eat. At least for the breeds of sheep I raise(d) I have never noticed the mutton to have a particularly strong flavor. Just my experience with my own product....

 

J.

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So many variables here. Feed before slaughter, stress levels before slaughter, time meat aged, the exact cuts etc.

 

I had one processor cut up a hot carcass for a customer of mine. Needless to say, lost that customer.

 

I raise Katahdins. The word is they taste better because they are a hair sheep. I don't know if that is true, or if it because of other factors like feed and stress. I do have very happy lamb customers. I have several stories of folks who "don't like lamb" who loved my lamb. Raved about it, even.

 

I have butchered a 2.5 year old breeding ram. Gave some meat to a chef friend of mine. His critique when asked was that visually, the raw meat was darker, and the cuts were much larger, but other than that, tasted the same as lamb.

 

I butchered and ground a seven year old ewe. Delicious! I had many folks wanting to buy some, but since it was not USDA slaughter, they couldn't. Some of these folks "don't like lamb" I tell that is ok, this is mutton! They are very surprised.

Mutton has such a bad name but it really can be good. Again, what it was fed, how the meat was handled is very important. Also, much of the flavor ( good or bad) comes from the fat. An older, fat sheep is likely where the reputation of nasty mutton comes from. How the breed carries fat is, I think, important when dealing with older sheep. I think this is where the good reputation of hair sheep comes in. Well, at least Katahdins, St Croix and barbs. Dropper maybe not so much. ( as mutton)

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I hope y'all are getting your cheques from the lamb board, as you have certainly influenced my purchasing decisions.

 

Lamb loin chops are being had for dinner this week.

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So maybe this is the right place to ask what the preferred age for butchering is? And how long should I want the processor to age the carcass?

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the heavy amounts of feed given to animals in the stockyards added to the stress there not to mention antibiotics etc will/does affect the taste of the animal. Now most Americans do not grow up eating lamb and it has a lot more flavor than beef, chicken and pork (especially modern pork) so it tastes 'strange' and therefore isn't 'good' in their minds. I find lamb can be good or bad depending on not only the way it is raised/managed but also how it is processed.

Proper preparation and cooking can make lamb one of the more delicious meats IMO. But so few Americans know how to cook even beef to get the best flavor so lamb has a big handicap there :)

 

And I agree the Lamb Board does nothing to properly promote lamb. Often IF there is lamb to eat it is ground lamb-often mixed with a large amount of beef fat and frankly it tastes horrible!

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On a related note _ brag alert!_ at this point we are holding this season's heaviest lamb record (that is individual, not average)of the local slaughterhouse; a whopping 30.7 kg carcass. But there are still a couple of weeks to go...

 

Congratulations!

 

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Producers around the Denver-metro sell a lot of mutton, lamb and goat (directly) to the middle eastern/American Muslim community. One rancher told me that he culls mostly around big Muslim holidays and the USDA processor he uses, cleans and retrofits specifically to meet halal standards for 3 days.

 

Can't remember his breed... but he said those communities have a strong preference for mutton. For one, it's cheaper, and for another, they probably have really good recipes. :)

 

Hmm... maybe we should start a thread to share our best lamb or mutton recipes...? I would love to know an Icelandic specialty... :)

 

I don't know about the American Lamb board... but does anyone go with American Grassfed certification? My impression is that they do promote their growers...?

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Congratulations!

 

Thanks, the guy who does a lot of the transport to the slaughterhouse predicts our record will fall tomorrow.

Not unlikely, it is based on the life weight of the lambs that will be slaughtered tomorrow. Not everybody weighs lambs alive but this particular farm does, and is very high indeed....

Will keep you posted.

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I like meat with flavour, not bland like most beef I've ever eaten both in Europe and North America. Lamb is the only meat I find doesn't need to be smothered with sauces or seasoning to make it edible.

 

Many of our local lambs graze on the salt marshes and people will pay a premium for the meat.

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