Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Why should I buy lamb direct from a producer?
Should I ask for a young lamb?
Do you feed hormones or antibiotics to your sheep?
Do you feed animal or poultry byproducts to your sheep?
Why should I buy a locker lamb from you?
Should I order individual cuts, or a whole or half lamb?
should I buy lamb direct from a producer?
Aside from the benefits of knowing where your food comes
from, and often a lower price, it is the only way
you will consistently get lamb of excellent quality and
good plate coverage.
US supermarket, you will find three (3) types of lamb:
1) New Zealand lamb, 2) Australian lamb, and 3) American
lamb. Each has its own characteristics. New Zealand
lamb is typically grass-finished Coopworth and Coopworth-cross
sheep. If weather conditions in NZ were good when the
lamb was finished, flavor and tenderness will be good,
if conditions were bad, then not so good. (I don’t
think the best NZ lamb compares with the best American
lamb, but you are unlikely to find the best American
lamb in a supermarket.) The biggest negative with NZ
lamb is size and cost; NZ lambs are slaughtered at
around 80#, and chops are tiny by American standards.
Providing adequate “plate coverage,” in
restaurant-speak, can therefore be a pricy proposition.
Australian lamb is typically also grass-fed, but
Merino-cross and stronger-flavored, and frequently
tougher as finishing conditions in Australia are rarely
as good as in NZ. American lamb in the supermarket can
be anything – grain-finished, legume-finished, or
grass-finished, any size, any breed, and of varying
ages. Plate coverage is typically better than NZ/Aus
lamb, but of widely varying flavor profile and quality.
(This is the main reason, by the way – not currency
exchange rates – why the US market for lamb has shrunk
overall, and that NZ lamb increases its market share in
the US, despite it’s small size and cost – it’s at least
I ask for a young lamb?
Not unless you want a small whole lamb to put on a spit
for that special barbecue, or for an ethnic specialty
the usual followup questions: Aren’t young lambs more
tender, and mild-tasting? Aren’t older lambs, and
mutton, strong-flavored and tough?)
are surely more misconceptions (and complete nonsense)
in circulation concerning lamb and mutton than any other
meats. A few years ago I posted a
discussion of this
topic to one of the sheep Yahoo! Groups. It gets
reposted and quoted with some regularity, which
indicates that even experienced sheep people are not
always clear on this topic.
beef, flavor develops with age. It is ironic that
people who would never buy veal (“too bland!”) will
insist on the sheep equivalent of veal! This attitude,
however, is a perfectly logical reaction to bad
experiences with poorly-finished, bad-tasting sheep
(i.e., “If the flavor’s not that great, let’s get a
young one that’s got less of it.”). University studies,
with properly grown and finished lamb, have shown the
highest satisfaction with hoggets (aged 9 to 12
months) and yearlings (aged 12 months to 2 years). This
is older than most lamb sold in markets. Our experience
has been that a properly-grown and finished lamb is
going to taste good, irrespective of age. (Most of the
locker sheep we sell are lambs between 5 and 9 months of
age, with the occasional yearling.) Moreover, very
young lambs are small, and with processing costs, a poor
value for the money relative to older, larger sheep.
feed hormones or antibiotics to your sheep?
Hormones, never. Antibiotics, only for medical
conditions that specifically require their use.
Importantly for you, the buyer, we do not administer
“fed antibiotics” to our lambs as a growth supplement.
feed animal or poultry byproducts to your sheep?
Never. Sheep are ruminant herbivores, and should be fed
I buy locker lamb from you?
Good question. Short answer: we know sheep on the hoof,
and lamb on the plate.
seedstock producer, we pay more attention to detail – at
every level – than any other kind of livestock operation.
The health of our stock is an overriding concern. Due to
the various health certification programs of which we are a
part, our sheep are inspected every year by a USDA
veterinarian. How we grow, care for, and feed our locker
sheep reflects this kind of attention to detail. We don’t
feed antibiotics, hormones, or animal by-products. Our locker sheep are managed
for flavor profile, tenderness, and the proper amount of
marbling). They are processed in USDA-inspected facilities
of impeccable reputation. The breed we raise – the Suffolk
– is the meat sheep breed par excellence, used
worldwide more than any other to produce premium lamb.
culinary side, the proprietors of this business are
“foodies” of an advanced order – avid cooks, and food
industry professionals with 45 years combined experience.
They eat a lot of lamb, work with recipes constantly,
and know the kind of lamb they want on the plate.
result, the most frequent comment we hear from first-time
purchasers is “I’ve never had lamb like that
before!”, and most of our customers are repeat buyers. We
offer advice on cutting, coordinate custom cutting and
delivery, and provide proven recipes to ensure that your
exploration of cooking lamb is successful.
order individual cuts, or a whole or half lamb?
This depends on the size of your freezer. Unlike a locker
beef purchase, a half lamb will fit into the freezer
compartment of an ordinary kitchen refrigerator/freezer.
Even a whole lamb takes up only one shelf of a large upright
freezer. A half or whole lamb is the better buy, if you like
all the cuts. On the other hand, buying individual cuts lets
you pick out exactly what you want. If you're a "newbie" to
lamb cooking, we'd recommend a half lamb, which lets you try
out a number of recipes at a modest cost.