Sheep are multipurpose livestock that can be raised for meat, wool, and dairy. Although most sheep are dual purpose breeds, meaning they are good producers of both wool and meat, many breeds excel in one specific area such as meat, wool, or dairy production. Breeds that excel in meat production grow fast and produce meaty carcasses. A majority of the meat breeds originated in Great Britain.



    2. Hampshire

    3. Montadale 

    4. North County Cheviot

4.         5. Oxford

5.         6. Shropshire

6.         7. Southdown

7.         8. Suffolk


North County Cheviot                                                                                                                                                              Oxford


*For more information on each breed of sheep listed above visit this site at









Judging meat quality

Lamb and mutton (older sheep) are graded by two USDA grading systems: quality grading and yield grading. The purpose of the grading is to aid to lambs as live animals and as meat products. Using the grading systems, products can be more easily priced and marketed according to their given values by the grades

Quality grade

Quality grade indicates the expected eating satisfaction of the meat.  The grades for lamb meat are Prime, Choice, Good, and Utility.  The grades for mutton, which is sheep over one baby goatyear old, are Choice, Good, Utility, and Cull. There are several factors that are used to judge the grade of the animal.  They include maturity, lean quality, and carcass conformation.


1.     Maturity

Maturity in lambs is determined by evaluating lean color and texture, rib bones and break joints.  To be considered lamb maturity the carcass must have break joints on both shanks, slightly wide and flat rib bones and a light red, fine textured, lean or meat.  A mutton maturity carcass has spool joints on both shanks, tend to have wide, flat rib bones and a dark red, coarse textured lean.


2.     Lean quality

Lean quality is evaluated by texture, firmness and marbling in a cut surface. 


3.     Carcass conformation

Carcass conformation is judged by comparing thickness in ration to length of a cut and the amount of edible material that can be taken from the cut.  A poor conformation lamb carcass is thinly muscled and has a less desirable lean to bone ratio.


Yield grade

Another system used to judge lamb and mutton is yield grade.  This reflects the quantity of the retail cut that can be expected from a carcass.  This is method depends on the fat thickness of the 12th rib of an animal.  The grades vary from 1 to 5 with 1 being more desirable than 5. 


Dressing percent

The dressing percent of an animal is determined by dividing the live weight of the animal by the carcass weight of the animal.  This can be influenced by the amount of food in the animal pre-slaughter and whether or not the sheep had been shorn.  The greatest factor affecting dressing percent is the fatness of the animal.  A fatter sheep will have a higher dressing percent.  The normal range for dressing percent is between 48% and 58%.


Body wall thickness

Measuring fat over ribeye This measurement is taken from the outside of the rib to the outside fat at 4 to 5 inches below the ribeye.  The range for this measurement is .4 to 1.40. 





Ribeye area

Measuring the ribeye areaThe ribeye is an important measurement in evaluating the quality of a carcass.  The Ribeye size is measured at the 12th rib using a plastic grid.  Counting the squares in the ribeye gives the area.  The range for ribeye is 1.8 t0 3.25.





Uses of Byproducts from Slaughtering


After the meat is removed from a carcass, there is still a great deal of product available for use.  The byproducts from sheep are used in everyday goods all over America and the World.  After reading through this list you may want to stop and thank your local sheep producer.  It is likely that a product you just used was provided by a sheep!


From Hide and Wool
Lanolin, Drum Heads, Artists' Brushes, Rouge, Base Insulation, Asphalt Binder, Textiles, Ointment Base, Tennis Balls, Glue, Paint, and Plaster Binder


From Fats and Fatty Acids
Explosives, Solvents, Chewing Gum, Paints, Rennet for Cheese, Industrial Oils, Industrial Lubricants, Stearic Acid, Cosmetics, Dog Food, Mink Oil, Oleo Margarine, Ceramics, Medicines, Shoe Crème, Dish Soap, Tires, Parffin, Chicken Feed, Biodegradable Detergents,
Antifreeze, Crayons, Floor Wax, Tallow for Tanning, Chemicals, Rubber Products, Insecticides, Candles, Herbicides, Shaving Cream, Protein Hair Conditioner and Shampoo, Creams, and Lotions

From Intestines
Sausage Casings
Instrument Strings
Surgical Sutures
Tennis Racquet Strings

From the Bones, Horns and Hooves
Syringes, Gelatin Desserts, Rose Food, Piano Keys, Marshmallows, Potted Meats, Pet Food Ingredients, Bandage Strips, Bone Charcoal Pencils, Gelatin Capsules, Adhesive Tape, Phonograph Records, Combs, Toothbrushes, Buttons, Bone Meal, Emery Boards, Ice Cream, Laminated Wood Products, Horn and Bone Handles, Collagen and Bone for Plastic Surgery, Bone China, Wallpaper and Wallpaper Paste, Dog
Biscuits, Steel Ball Bearings, Malts and Shakes, Fertilizer, Neatsfoot Oil, Adhesives, Bone Charcoal for High Grade Steel, Plywood and Paneling, Shampoo and Conditioner, Dice, Collagen, Cold Cream, Crochet Needles, Cellophane Wrap and Tape, Glycerin, Photographic Film



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