1

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Locally sourced lamb not 100% grass-fed. Is this normal?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created January 23, 2012 at 3:54 PM

I went to a store that gets all its meat from local farmers in VA/MD area. I asked the lady who works there if the meat is 100% grass-fed. She said yes for beef, but not for pork and lamb or chickens. She said that for lambs they can't be 100% pastured on grass because in the winter there is no grass (makes sense) so the farmers feed them grain. She said that the animals are raised humanely and they have seen the farms and farmers which is good. So I am wondering, whats the deal with lamb that is 100% grass-fed? How do they feed the sheep in winter when there is no grass? Or do these lamb all come from warmer climates? Should I be worried about eating lamb that isn't 100% grass-fed, or will it still be better than lamb that is never out in pasture?

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on January 23, 2012
at 11:21 PM

No that is 100% illegal

D1728f99db66ff91d695a6df5cd38b02

(1368)

on January 23, 2012
at 10:58 PM

Haha Paul, I'm not sure. I'm sure she said a lot of other things that made sense as well, I just don't remember the whole conversation.

D1728f99db66ff91d695a6df5cd38b02

(1368)

on January 23, 2012
at 10:56 PM

Melissa, I heard that they can put grass-fed on the label if the animal is fed grass but finished on grains. Is this true?

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on January 23, 2012
at 09:01 PM

unfortunately there are no standards for that. Something is either grass-fed or it's not legally. I prefer to buy grass-fed. Grains are more likely to have contaminants anyway.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on January 23, 2012
at 08:19 PM

I wouldn't argue that a small ration of grain is sub-optimal in the slightest.

47a42b6be94caf700fce9509e38bb6a4

(9647)

on January 23, 2012
at 06:39 PM

I'm confused as to how your supplier thinks the winter argument is supposed to apply to the sheep and not to the cows. (See Melissa's answer below.)

246ebf68e35743f62e5e187891b9cba0

(21420)

on January 23, 2012
at 06:32 PM

Not necessarily Joy, but it is a fortunate coincidence that the best beef I've eaten has been the beef that is processed/harvested humanely. I also hunt, and know from experience that meat that has been killed quickly is much better tasting than an animal that left a mile of blood trail... because of this, myself and my hunting partner refuse to take "pot shots" at game.

D1728f99db66ff91d695a6df5cd38b02

(1368)

on January 23, 2012
at 05:40 PM

Melissa, I will definitely ask the store owner when I'm in next time about that. Lol I was thinking about hay myself, I thought that was what cows and sheep ate lol. Where I grew up all the cows lived in fields and always seemed to have some hay sitting around if they got sick of grass.

D1728f99db66ff91d695a6df5cd38b02

(1368)

on January 23, 2012
at 05:38 PM

Joshua I'm assuming your order of priority is based on a belief that each of those things contribute in that order to the quality of the meat?

6cdc6b1e75690cfcc4804a6c9eaa910a

(2171)

on January 23, 2012
at 05:29 PM

Joy - I looked it up and it is one of those joyous differences in our common language. Apparently in UK "lamb" must be under 12 months old, then it becomes "mutton" but in US the term "lamb" is more generic for any age...

246ebf68e35743f62e5e187891b9cba0

(21420)

on January 23, 2012
at 05:17 PM

Grass-fed is not my primary concern when sourcing protein. Treatment > Processing > Diet - in that order. Fortunately most meats that are humanely treated and processed, are usually grass-fed as well (but I don't assume that).

Bbd50c115fa066bea3ac23a4e82447ff

(558)

on January 23, 2012
at 04:41 PM

Joy, I believe the older meat is what is referred to as "mutton."

D1728f99db66ff91d695a6df5cd38b02

(1368)

on January 23, 2012
at 04:34 PM

Dave its Maple Avenue Market in downtown Vienna. Super cool store btw. And Gary, Idk about lamb vs sheep I didn't know the lamb was killed so young, I thought lamb in stores were sheep. I have never seen 'sheep meat' in stores.

6cdc6b1e75690cfcc4804a6c9eaa910a

(2171)

on January 23, 2012
at 04:02 PM

Not sure I buy the winter story for the lambs themselves...what's the average age of a lamb when slaughtered for meat? My understanding is usually well under a year. But I guess that could be UK definition of "lamb" and US includes older animals (what we call sheep)?

A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4

(20436)

on January 23, 2012
at 03:58 PM

Off topic, but what store? I live in NoVA...

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3 Answers

6
9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on January 23, 2012
at 05:10 PM

Yeah, my family has a farm and we hired a farm manager who had owned his own conventional farm before he worked for us, so he wasn't really up to speed with grass-fed. He insisted that the cows needed grains in the winter and I was like "nope" and I hired a grass-fed consultant to tell him that there is something called hay which is dried grass. D'oh. He never would have listened to me though since I'm not a farmer. In the winter you feed animals you want to keep grass-fed dried forage like hay with some supplements like alfalfa.

However, PUFA content is so low in ruminant meat that I personally don't worry about eating animals that had a little grain. I think it's suboptimal for them and us though.

246ebf68e35743f62e5e187891b9cba0

(21420)

on January 23, 2012
at 05:17 PM

Grass-fed is not my primary concern when sourcing protein. Treatment > Processing > Diet - in that order. Fortunately most meats that are humanely treated and processed, are usually grass-fed as well (but I don't assume that).

D1728f99db66ff91d695a6df5cd38b02

(1368)

on January 23, 2012
at 05:38 PM

Joshua I'm assuming your order of priority is based on a belief that each of those things contribute in that order to the quality of the meat?

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on January 23, 2012
at 09:01 PM

unfortunately there are no standards for that. Something is either grass-fed or it's not legally. I prefer to buy grass-fed. Grains are more likely to have contaminants anyway.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on January 23, 2012
at 08:19 PM

I wouldn't argue that a small ration of grain is sub-optimal in the slightest.

D1728f99db66ff91d695a6df5cd38b02

(1368)

on January 23, 2012
at 10:56 PM

Melissa, I heard that they can put grass-fed on the label if the animal is fed grass but finished on grains. Is this true?

D1728f99db66ff91d695a6df5cd38b02

(1368)

on January 23, 2012
at 05:40 PM

Melissa, I will definitely ask the store owner when I'm in next time about that. Lol I was thinking about hay myself, I thought that was what cows and sheep ate lol. Where I grew up all the cows lived in fields and always seemed to have some hay sitting around if they got sick of grass.

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on January 23, 2012
at 11:21 PM

No that is 100% illegal

246ebf68e35743f62e5e187891b9cba0

(21420)

on January 23, 2012
at 06:32 PM

Not necessarily Joy, but it is a fortunate coincidence that the best beef I've eaten has been the beef that is processed/harvested humanely. I also hunt, and know from experience that meat that has been killed quickly is much better tasting than an animal that left a mile of blood trail... because of this, myself and my hunting partner refuse to take "pot shots" at game.

0
C8996210c0ab1169b5ad7e94f72ac670

on October 10, 2012
at 04:55 AM

I live in Ohio and raise 100% grass-fed lamb. There is no reason that lamb can't be 100% grass-fed. Most farms that raise grass-fed lamb coordinate the breeding of the animals so that the lambs are born in the spring out in the pasture. This gives the lambs a good six months to grow to butchering size, without having to feed grain. The lambs are taken to the butcher when the grass growth slows down in late fall. If, for some reason, the lambs are held over through the winter, they will continue to grow or, at minimum, maintain their weight on high quality hay.

0
E36cb992cf0a5eba8b97a359c15f38b3

on January 23, 2012
at 07:06 PM

I'm in northern Virginia, too, and I'm pretty sure there are farms in Loudoun county other than the one I go to (which doesn't sell at the farmers markets) that are pastured. I can think of a few off the top of my head. In the winter I believe they rely more heavily on hay, but I still see some green grass out in Purcellville so I know there is plenty of stuff to eat.

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