Smallholders Insurance from Greenlands

Author Topic: stores lambs questions  (Read 3829 times)


  • Joined Apr 2011
  • Anglesey
stores lambs questions
« on: August 02, 2011, 10:42:30 am »
We're going to go to one of the weekly sales and possibly buy half a dozen lambs as stores.

Roughly how old are they before they are ready to go to slaughter?

We've done 2 pigs recently, and now looking to getting another batch of 4.  Are lamb cuts different, ie, with pigs you have the choice of bacom/gammon.  Are there any choices with lamb, or is it just the one straightforward choice of cuts?



  • Joined Aug 2010
  • Aberdeenshire
Re: stores lambs questions
« Reply #1 on: August 02, 2011, 11:17:39 am »
Depends on the breed and the feeding!

if its a commercial breed (big, white, usually ugly!) then you can get them to slaughter weight in under 6 months ie they go off the same year they are born. But if sold as stores that would imply they need a few more months of good grass so maybe later in the year,

Traditional breeds like Shetland/Hebridean etc can be sent off their first winter at about 9 months. But ideally they go off as hoggett ie in their second year.

So if you were drawing a distinction between young lamb and more mature hoggett or mutton, the commercial breeds would make more sense for the former (they get to a commercial killing size in the first summer) and the trad breeds more sense for hoggett or older (mutton) as they can overwinter on a lot less in the way of pampering, just hay and a lick for the most part.

There isnt a different nature of product in terms of cuts like there is in pigs (where the breeds are often better for one or the other of bacon or pork too), but you can choose slightly different cuts eg with hoggett or mutton you might be havign that as you want to do more long /slow cooking (which mutton might need; trad breed hoggett doesnt but it can stand up to it and amazing taste!), so eg you might remove the shanks from the joints so you can do slow cooked lamb shanks.

Strongly recommend the River Cottage diagram of all the possible joints in their Meat book, (you can buy it as a small poster too). It helps a lot to work out the overlapping names of joints so you dont end up ordering a joint where you have already used up that part of the animal between two othr joints!


  • Joined Dec 2009
  • St Boswells, Scottish Borders
Re: stores lambs questions
« Reply #2 on: August 02, 2011, 11:20:06 am »
It depends on the breed when they are ready, i.e. older traditional breeds (like the Shetland) often need a good 18 months before they are at their best, but you will most likely get txl or suffolk crosses of the dominant type of ewe in your area. They will be ready to go when they reach about 42 to 45kgs live weight, bigger than 50kgs and you will have quite a bit of fat on them. If you want them for home consumption you take them either when your freezer is empty or the grass runs out (and you don't want to keep them until next year). You could also take some in early autumn, and leave some for next autumn, depending on your plans for sheep in general.

Re cuts here lambs/mutton gets cut one general way, Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall's books have good descriptions.


  • Joined Apr 2011
  • Anglesey
Re: stores lambs questions
« Reply #3 on: August 02, 2011, 12:26:56 pm »
Thank you both for the replies. We have 4 acres of good grazing going spare, so thought rather than rent it out, we'd put some lambs on it, and ideally have some meat for winter. I do have a supply of big bale haylage in for the horses, so winter feeding isn't really a problem, but it would be easier if there were less livestock to check on, ie, just the horses.  Once again, thank you  ;)


  • Joined Jul 2011
  • Port O' Menteith, Stirlingshire
Re: stores lambs questions
« Reply #4 on: August 02, 2011, 12:55:58 pm »
Four acres o decent grass should see half a dozen cross lambs fattened to a good weight by about mid to late october if you buy them in the next couple o weeks. Try to buy fairly strong lambs and it will make the whole job a lot easier. You really don't want to be trying to fatten your lambs from the haylage if for no other reason than it can be a slow and expensive way to do the job. If you decide to go down the route of slower finishing hill breeds or rare breeds then you can really expect to have to try and keep them going all winter and try and fatten them off the new grass in the spring. The winter will give them enough time to grow the frame that they need to carry the weight of fattening.

If looking to just supply your own freezer a mix of the two would be good. 3-4 to kill in the autumn and then the same number for the spring.

If you are looking to keep them over the winter make sure you don't get landed with rigs or tups or you might end up with more sheep than you expected in the spring!
It's always worse for someone else, so get your moaning done before they start using up all the available symathy!


  • Joined Jan 2011
  • Dumfries & Galloway
Re: stores lambs questions
« Reply #5 on: August 02, 2011, 08:03:12 pm »
Just wondered if you are aware of prices at the moment could be 50 to 70 each depending on breed and quality


  • Joined Apr 2011
  • Anglesey
Re: stores lambs questions
« Reply #6 on: August 04, 2011, 07:09:42 pm »
Thanks Dougal :)

Shep, the weekly mart were selling for 30 - 60 this week.

I might not go down the route it's just a passing thought as nobody had responded to my advert for the grazing.  Then Tuesday evening somebody rang as he has 10 rare breed sheep so I'm meeting him tomorrow. Also a girl has rung last night too wanting grazing for 2 horses. So I might not get my own after all.  Thanks for the imput everyone :)


  • Joined Dec 2009
  • St Boswells, Scottish Borders
Re: stores lambs questions
« Reply #7 on: August 05, 2011, 09:18:03 pm »
You could always negotiate payment-in-kind for your grazing, so you would still get your mutton (in case of rarebreed sheep)... and with very little hassle...

Be careful if letting on horses together with sheep, if these are not used to each other and the sheep may have horns it might not be such a good idea... however I have done this in the past without problems. Depends on the individual animals. You would also have to make sure both owners are ok with co-grazing.


  • Joined Apr 2011
  • Anglesey
Re: stores lambs questions
« Reply #8 on: August 08, 2011, 01:20:09 pm »
Anke, yes it did cross my mind ;D

I've agreed he can bring his sheep, he will be the sole livestock owner, it's what I'd want if I was renting somewhere too. So next Monday his Soay will be arriving - looking forward to seeing them 8)


  • Guest
Re: stores lambs questions
« Reply #9 on: August 08, 2011, 02:39:19 pm »
thats good, u can enjoy them without any hard work. lol  :wave:


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