Have I mentioned I can’t wait to get my lambs? I have started preparing for them. Last year we had three, lost one and raised two on a drought. We only live on an acre so the drought was not what I wanted, but we survived. You can easily raise 6 sheep on an acre if you use the grass wisely. Rotational grazing is a must. A husband who is ok with you putting your lambs in the front yard of your house is also a must.
This year we will get at least 3. I have already called processing places in my area. The closest one, that everyone uses, wouldn’t process because of mad cow disease. Last year I didn’t know any other processors and so I ended up doing the lambs myself. It was an adventure, but because we were using the meat for ourselves it didn’t matter. It was a learning process. I thought it would be like a deer, um, no..it’s not. The entire carcass comes apart differently and the cuts are different too.
I finally got names of other local (within 50 miles) processors and called around. It is rather expensive to get a lamb done, but at least they don’t charge per pound, it is a flat fee. A fee, I might add, that is almost as much as buying the lamb to begin with! I would have to get the meat processed on a day that they had an inspector there so that I could sell the meat from my house. I could sell the lamb before the slaughter and get it processed a little closer, non inspected for $30 cheaper. I have heard from a person though they did not like how they did their beef, so we will check more into that. I talked to her and she honestly seemed very nice and even was willing to let me take the hide back with my meat. That would allow me to tan the hide and also sell that. Not that I have buyers lined up.
I’m the kind of person that does not understand Prime Rib, T-bone steaks, New York Strip, Rack of Lamb..you know all those expensive things. There is no way our family could ever afford to feed ourselves those cuts. When I look at meat I see a broke momma trying to feed her children with the best meat possible. I see trying to decide what fat grade of hamburger she can afford because she decided to buy an organic bag of apples. To me, marking lamb up to $5 a pound because you can, considerably kills your market. The point of us raising sheep was to first see if we liked lamb meat. We had never had it. We couldn’t afford it. Second, we figured we could raise one a lot cheaper than buying cuts at the store.
This year, depending on the price of the lamb in the beginning, we will sell the meat and hopefully make enough to pay for the lamb. That is my goal. If I can get people here eating lamb and realizing how good it is, then we will see about trying to turn a profit. It depends on how they cut the lamb also. I cut it and got 10 good, family of 4, fill your tummy meals. We bought our lambs last year for $100. That means each meal was $10 just for the meat!! Wow..that was a shocker to me.
I had to remember though that it would have been more if I had bought it at the store, it would have been fed grain and pumped full of antibiotics, dewormers, and other things that I never had to use. My lamb was organically produced and rotationally grazed. My lamb got love, attention, played with, and died humanely. I got a wool throw across my piano, I got soup bones for stock, I got organ meat.. if you really think about it, I got more than 10 “meals”. I got a lot of bang for my buck and some awesome lamby friendships.