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US Lamb Grades

American lamb is mild in flavor


lamb, cuts, recipes, mutton, meat, receipts

Lamb Cuts

© 2009 Peggy Trowbridge Filippone

How is lamb graded?

The United States recognizes three categories of lamb, all based on age. Mutton, due to its age, is generally not considered "lamb," but is included here for the sake of information.

U.S. government regulations require that spring lamb be slaughtered between the beginning of March and the close of the week containing the first Monday in October. It is the most popular variety in America.

Although American consumption of lamb pales in comparison to other countries, the U.S. does not produce enough lamb to satisfy consumer demand. Much of the lamb sold in the U.S. is imported frozen from New Zealand. Australia is another major exporter of lamb.

American lamb is generally milder in flavor, since the sheep are grain-fed rather than permitted to free-range graze. The U.S. cuts are also generally larger and meatier.

The U.S. government further grades lamb based on the proportion of fat to lean meat. Prime is the top grade, followed in order by Choice, Good, Utility, and Cull grades.

US Lamb Grades

•  Baby Lamb: Milk-fed lambs slaughtered at between 6 and 8 weeks of age. (Also known as hothouse lamb)
•  Spring Lamb: Milk-fed lamb between 3 and 5 months of age.
•  Lamb: Weaned on grass and under one year of age.
•  Mutton: Sheep over 1 year of age, typically slaughtered by 2 years of age as a food source.

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Lamb Selection, Storage, and Cuts
Lamb Grades
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Lamb History
Lamb Recipes
Lamb Photo © 2009 Peggy Trowbridge Filippone, licensed to About.com, Inc.


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