Question of the Week

Permalink How can I find a good lamb processor?

Answer: Harvest and processing of your lambs are cornerstones in the successful marketing of your product. In most cases, they are also the components in the production chain over which you have the least direct control. All of your skill in producing and marketing your lamb comes to no avail if you do not succeed in securing the successful harvest of your lambs. For this reason, employing the services of a knowledgeable and reputable meat processor is of utmost importance. Remember that the processor must have appropriate inspection for the way you intend to sell your meat. For example, if you are selling to stores, restaurants, or farmers markets, State or Federal inspection is required. Federal inspection is required when selling across state lines. See the ATTRA publication Tips for Marketing Sheep and Goat Products: Meat for more information.

Ideally, the processor should be relatively close to your farm. This limits the stress of hauling, allows you to easily view the hanging carcasses, and eases your transportation costs. Often, we producers know much more about the production part of our business than the processing end. A knowledgeable butcher who is willing to teach you the value of a good carcass and how to cut it expertly is invaluable. In my own experience, my operation has profited immensely from our meat cutter and processor. For more on lamb processing and how you can foster good relations with your butcher, see the ATTRA video Creating an Excellent Relationship with Your Lamb Processor.

Meat processors are busy people. Key to their success is keeping up plant throughput over the entire year. Anything you can do to make their life easier (especially communication) will be appreciated and earn you dividends in cooperation. Good processors are very hard to find; nurture the relationship with yours.

To learn more, consult the ATTRA publication Direct Marketing Lamb: A Pathway. This publication describes an alternative to marketing lamb other than as a commodity—and capturing the economic benefits. Successful marketing techniques are described, beginning with the finished lamb and continuing through the processing, pricing, and sale of whole and boxed lamb to today's eager local foods customer.

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