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Example of sheep with extra muscle
An example of sheep that offer extra muscle per lb of carcass per day of age as well as eating satisfaction.


Come see us at Mother Earth News Fair Topeka, KS, Oct 24-25, 2015
The Dairy Sheep Symposium, Madison, WI, Nov 5-7, 2015
National Lamb Quality Audit Strategy Workshop Summary by Travis W Hoffman

What do we need to do to increase the demand for American Lamb?

A key to answering this question is understanding how consumers (in this I include butchers and food stores who resell it) perceive lamb.

In brief:

What do they like most about it?
What do they dislike about it?
How does it compare to imported lamb (other than cost)?

The core answers:

1. The most important attribute is eating satisfaction.
2. The most important negative is its high cost/lb to buy—compared to other meats and compared to imported lamb.

How do I know this?

Because I studied the National Lamb Quality Audit. It was funded by the American Lamb Board and released this spring. It’s an excellent piece of work. Here is the link: Lamb Quality Audit, 2015.

It’s 120 pages. That's a lot. I suggest you read:

The initial executive summary and introduction (pages 2-6)
The discussion and conclusions (pages 57-59)
Appendices E-K (pages 78-119)

I found the comments in the appendices from the respondents (about the strengths, weaknesses, threats, image of US lamb, image of imported lamb, etc) riveting.

They are similar to reading product reviews on an e-commerce site (like those on Premier or Amazon). While they disagree with one another at times, the consensus perceptions are clear.

For more about lamb quality, check out these links:

Meat Quality and Shelf Life
Quality Sheep Meat—Achieving Target PH and Temperature Declines to Improve Meat Quality
Optimising Lamb Meat Quality
Alliance Meat Quality Summary ’08
Australian Lamb Meat Quality Report
Lamb Meat Quality (Australian)
Quality Sheep Meat—Achieving a Brilliant Finish to your Lambs
Quality Sheep Meat—Taking the Mutton out of Lamb
Quality Sheep Meat—Growth and Carcase Characteristics of the Major Sheep Breeds in Australia
Quality Sheep Meat—Meat, Colour and Shelf-Life

The core question—

Will the US sheep industry use this audit and make, over time, the necessary changes to increase eating satisfaction and reduce our cost/lb?

As we all know, one can “lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink”. This audit leads us to the “water”. If we don’t “drink” (i.e make the changes needed), the decline in the commercial segment of the US sheep industry will continue.

As I’ve noted in prior newsletters, the other sectors (show, hobby, yarn farming, farm-to-table) of the US sheep industry are less at risk. But those segments also need to put themselves on a continuous improvement track in both carcass quality and eating satisfaction.

Best wishes to all...
Stan Potratz


Wanted: Full time shepherd needed for 180 acre nonprofit teaching farm on Martha’s Vineyard island off the coast of Massachusetts. Responsibilities would include primary management for a 50 ewe flock, along with general farm responsibilities and collaborations with the education staff. Send resume and cover letter to or contact Jon at 508-627-7007. Visit the Farm Institute website at


Lambing Supplies

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Our lambing season has already arrived (we do fall lambing) so our lambing kit is already stocked with "O" Rings, ear tags, Triodine and other tools of the trade.




Once summer weather moves away, our cool season grasses will likely see a late-season explosion, which means grazing!


Deluxe Marking Harness

Deluxe Marking Harness

Thick padded webbing and easy-to-use clips have made this harness our go-to marking harness during the breeding season (we also winter lamb). Standard Marking Crayons fit all of our harnesses.


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