The ‘Ages’ of Lamb

Following my blog yesterday where I endorsed the virtues of Australian meat producers and abattoir, the beauty of life is that you can be proved wrong at any turn. All I really needed to do was google 🙂 but here is where our Australian Standards takes over. The difference between ‘Australian substitution (not that I advocate any substitution) is no horse meat. They just put older lambs in the place of younger lambs. To the lamb eater, there is a different taste, but some people liken this to the difference between grain fed to grass-fed. For those that wish to read about it, go to the following link.

Here is where the line ‘mutton dressed up as lamb’ applies. Till I lived on a farm I had no idea there was a difference.

What is the difference between ages of lamb and what are their names?

1) Lamb; a  young sheep under 12 months of age which does not have any permanent incisor teeth in situ. The meat is firm textured but tender and the meat is pink to dark red in colour with a firm white fat covering, best on lambs that are 6 months to 8 months old

b) Prime Lamb: is a young lamb under 12 months of age that is raised purely for meat. The meat is firm textured and pink in colour with a white layer of fat covering. It will be tender to eat.

2) Hogget; a sheep of either sex having no more than two permanent incisors in situ, over 12 months old but not 24 months old. Hogget by definition “is overwintered lamb between about 12 and 18 months old” which means it has lived in a winter where food is abundant and they are well-kept and cared for. The meat is rich in flavour and with a firm texture, the fat covering is white and thicker than an under 12 month old lamb. This is meat that reflects its upbringing.

3) Mutton: a female (ewe) or castrated male (wether) sheep having more than two permanent incisors in situ. This means that the sheep may be over 2 years old and the flesh is less tender and the meat is darker red in colour. The meat has a stronger flavour as it is older and contains a higher concentration of species characteristic fatty acids mainly due to connective tissue maturation, it is commonly used and recommended for use in casseroles and stews due to the ‘chewier meat’. The fat covering can be yellowish and stringy making it if cooked incorrectly quite horrible to eat.

With these in mind in the NSW meat substitution you can see how “mutton dressed up as lamb” is deceiving and a ‘rip off’ to the consumer. Our food inspectors are well versed in quality and the looks of the meat, so you should if you are purchasing meat to feed yourself or your family.

To my American readers, may not know of these terms as they are not recognised by American standards, mutton may be known but hogget will not be. These terms are recognised in Australia and Saudi Arabia as they have stricter meat standards than other countries. Americans may know these as Yearling Lamb – a young sheep between 12 and 24 months old.

What are the benefits of eating lamb? Is any “age” lamb bad for me? The short answer NO – as long as the meat it not ‘off’ and you prepare it correctly, it can provide nutritious and beautiful meals for the family and for entertaining. Here are some Healthy Stats for you

Calorie wise 3.5 ounce or .2 lb or 1 kilo serving of Lamb loin is only 6 calories more than an equal serving of salmon and approx 11 calories less per ounce, kilo & pound than beef.

Lamb & protein. A serving of lamb delivers 30 grams of protein, 54% of the daily recommended requirement for men and 65% for women.

what is a serving you ask? approx 50 grams in size

  • 1 Loin Chop
  • 2 Rib Chops
  • 1 Sirloin Steak
  • 1 Shoulder Chop
  • 4 Spareribs or Riblets
  • 1 Patty
  • 2 think slices of roast (cooked)

Lamb is rich in iron, zinc and vitamin B12

There has been reports that the niacin (vitamin B3) in lamb can provide protection against Alzheimer’s, promotes healthy skin and retards the risk of developing osteoarthritis.

Lean lamb, prime lamb and ‘hogget’  is a selenium-rich food”. A mineral which has been reported to raise mood levels from poor to good, selenium is further known for its antioxidant properties which boost the immune system and promote good health.

Happy, healthy eating.

mutton meat

2 thoughts on “The ‘Ages’ of Lamb

  1. shellakers

    You’re just a wealth of information! I might have told you before, but if I haven’t, here goes. I’m from St. Louis Missouri. Mid west USA. It’s rare that anyone around here eats lamb because it’s just not all that available. It’s very expensive and hard to find. UNLESS you live on a farm and you raise it yourself. Now, the only time I’ve had lamb (or any variation there of) is on a cruise ship to somewhere tropical. Usually cruise ships are know for their terrific food. This one was too EXCEPT for the lamb I tried. It was SO bad I almost got sick. It was dark red, looked almost raw and tasted WAY too strong for my liking (and I’m not picky). Now I know why! lol I guess it was an old sheep?

    I’ll definitely be up for trying it again though, especially after reading your blog and learning a little bit about what to look for or ask for. Maybe I’ll try to hook up with a butcher and see if they can get a young sheep in. Or maybe contact a local farm. Even if I COULD find it in our grocery stores, there’s no guarantee it wouldn’t be old. In fact it probably would be old. Thanks for the heads up!


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