How is it raised? Fall-born lambs stay with their mothers about three months (by which time the ewes are ready to stop with the nursing already). They graze on pasture and eat hay, and lambs eat barley mixed with a pellet containing the protein and minerals required for a growing lamb’s balanced diet. No antibiotics are in feed. Because lambs grow through the fall and winter, they do not have to contend with internal parasite challenges, and often go to market without having tasted any deworming medications.
The schedule: You can reserve a lamb as early as December, and through August (depending on supply). The first lambs are up to weight by as early as February. I must schedule a date with my meat processor in advance (so plan ahead). I’ll email you a form to fill out on the cuts you want; a $100 deposit will guarantee your lamb.
Quantity and cost. Virginia private meat sales require that lambs are sold “live” (otherwise cuts have to be legally weighed and priced, adding cost and red tape). So the price of your lamb is a per-pound cost of its live weight, plus the cost to the processor (about $85). The live weight cost is $2.25 per pound; for a 100-pound lamb that works out to $225 plus $85 processing ($310)
How much meat do you get? The hanging weight of is what you get when the parts that are inedible (sans innards and outards) are removed. This averages 45 to 55 percent of the live weight; I guarantee a 50% yield on that live weight. So figure a 100-pound lamb will yield a 50-pound hanging weight.
Is that how much you take home? No. You take home the finished cuts or “yield.” The percentage of the hanging weight that remains is called the “yield” and is generally between 48% to 55% of hanging weight. This percentage depends on the cuts of lamb you choose:
- Bone-in vs. boneless cuts – This will dramatically affect yield; the more boneless cuts that are made, the lower the yield.
- The amount of fat remaining on the meat cuts – The yield will vary a bit based on how much surface fat the cutter leaves on the cuts. I work to not over-finish lambs, so there should just be a modest amount of fat on a grass-fed lamb.
- A lamb that dresses at 50 lbs. will usually yield between 25 – 30 lbs. of take-home meat.
If you choose boneless cuts, you can request the extra bones, to make dogs on your gift lists happy. (Dogs also like hearts, livers, and kidneys, if you don’t.)
So a whole lamb will cost you about $12 per pound of take-home meat.
Contact us for a cutting sheet and further information.