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How to Tell When Your Lamb/Steer is Finished

By   /  January 16, 2017  /  1 Comment

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This article was originally published on March 31, 2014. We’re sharing it again so all our new readers have a chance to see it. It goes well with this week’s piece about the new ATTRA/NCAT How-To booklet by Dave Scott, “Direct Marketing Lamb – A Pathway.” If you raise cattle instead of lambs, here’s a link for you.

In addition to the video on the technique, this free downloadable fact sheet can get you started quickly. Just click!

In addition to the video on the technique, this free downloadable fact sheet can get you started quickly. Just click!

If you market your lamb directly to the consumer, the technique of using your hands to tell when a lamb is finished is an indispensible tool. Successfully mastering this technique will not only distinguish your product from others in the marketplace, but it may also reduce the cost of producing your premium lamb by harvesting at precisely the right time. The correct live-animal evaluation of finished lambs leads to a superior, differentiated product that will keep your customers coming back for more.

To keep customers loyal to your product, your lamb must be both tasty and tender every time. You are, after all, offering a superior product to a discerning buyer who is paying a premium price. In today’s market, fat is frowned upon; however, lamb that is too lean will almost always be tough. It’s the balance of an exact amount of carcass fat and marbling with leanness that will provide your customers with a delightful dining experience.

In general, 0.20 to 0.25 inch of back fat is the correct amount of finish to achieve this goal. In this video I show you the technique you can use so you’ll know exactly when your lambs are finished. It is not difficult to master and it will pay big dividends.

natglc-logo-1Thanks to the National Grazing Lands Coalition for making this article possible. Click on over to see the great work they do for all of us. Thank them for supporting On Pasture by liking their facebook page.

 

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About the author

Dave Scott is a Livestock Specialist with the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT). Dave has 30 years experience with intensive grazing, including dairy and sheep. He has also served as a part-time consultant in management-intensive grazing, helping ranchers design and implement grazing systems that increased their stocking rates and net profits. Currently, Dave and his wife, Jenny, operate Montana Highland Lamb, a 200-ewe enterprise that markets over 50% of their grass-based natural lamb directly to the consumers in southwest Montana.

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